The decision to only accept credit and debit cards was made in June 2009 by the owner, Tony Zazula, who was inspired by an American Airlines flight.
“They had just announced that it was the introduction to their cashless cabin. I thought ‘how smart,’ and we were doing 85 to 90 percent of our business in credit cards, in any case,” Zazula explained to us. “We seemed to be spending a great deal of time on the remaining 10 to 15 percent that was being paid by cash. Accounting, record keeping, security and convenience were the main reasons that we made this decision.”
According to a study done by MerchantExpress.com, there are many benefits to accepting credit and debit cards. It illustrates that when a small business displays credit card logos as a form of payment they accept, these logos create a sense of trust in the customer’s mind- and if they trust the establishment, customers will frequently visit. For Zazula, the security and benefits of being credit-card-only outweigh the processing fee.
Commerce is the only restaurant in New York City that does not accept cash, according to The New York Times. It raises a lot of controversy and guests seem to take an interest in this unheard-of restaurant policy.
Even though on the dollar bill it states that the “note is legal tender for all debts, public and private,” no Federal decree requires a private business, person or organization to accept cash or coins as payment for goods and services. The law affirms that private businesses are free to cultivate their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which declares otherwise. This does not hold true in New York.
The regulars that stay loyal to their food and policy find it more convenient than dining at a cash only restaurant.
“I think it’s a good approach to business,” said Vincent Bandy, a regular at Commerce. “I’m sure for Tony it makes a lot of sense. He can account for everything, both behind the bar and on the restaurant floor. For a customer, I come here all the time and I have no problems with it at all. It works really well.”
Other business owners did not agree with the trend that Zazula was trying to set.
Zazula knew this decision would, at first, receive more negative attention than positive. However, there are many people that think Zazula has jumped on the early train of restaurant fashions. He believes that Commerce will continue to set new customs in the West Village.
“We have been very successful at Commerce in creating a restaurant that did ride the zeitgeist and continues to,” said Zazula. “We are established but we do that with our product in the style of the food’s ingredients and new items that excite our regular patrons, who we treat as family. That is a trend that is actually experienced in France but Americans aren’t use to that kind of restaurant being designed around the guests. We are sophisticated, hip, chic and exciting. Arriving is part of the experience and going past the history of this block. Not accepting cash has only added to that club-like feeling, where people could feel like they are a part of an exclusive club in the West Village.”