Case Study

Innovation for a Future-Proof Restaurant Operation


An upscale casual bar and diner with over 40 locations throughout the US came to CardFree in search of a contactless solution soon after the pandemic first hit. The restaurant was not only making plans to ramp up its ability to fulfill takeout orders, but was also looking ahead to the future of on-premise dining. 

For phone orders, the company was building out a call center program to reduce wait times and increase order volume, but the payment process for phone orders was still inefficient and time consuming. At the same time, although the world was still in shutdown mode when our conversations began, the company knew that whenever dine-in guests were allowed back, contactless order and pay options needed to be available. 


On top of this, the company already had a sizable tech stack in place, so they needed an API-driven solution that could seamlessly integrate with its POS, processor, and other ordering platforms.

CardFree text-to-pay and pay at table


Because of CardFree’s universal API capabilities and our willingness to work with the restaurant on some complex scenarios, we were chosen to provide multiple mobile solutions.

“Originally we wanted a very specific solution of contactless pay, but we have ended up using CardFree for so many more innovative solutions.”
VP of Technology


The restaurant chain’s most immediate need was an easy and efficient payment system for phone orders. To solve this, we integrated CardFree Text-To-Pay technology into the restaurant’s POS, enabling quick mobile payments via SMS link. This allows call center employees to enter a customer’s order and mobile number into the POS, eliminating the need to take credit card payment info over the phone. Customers could now easily review their order, pay via text link, and show payment confirmation to pick up their order.


In preparation for the return of dine-in customers, we also implemented CardFree Pay@Table. With this solution, when dine-in guests are ready to pay, they can access a merchant-branded mobile payment screen via QR code printed on their bill. From there, they enter their check number, decide how they want to split the bill (by item, percentage, or dollar amount), and pay with a credit/debit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay. This effectively speeds up table turns and improves the guest experience by allowing them to pay whenever they’re ready.

EMV Plus

After several months of positive results from Text-To-Pay and Pay@Table, the restaurant chain presented us with a new challenge. Its restaurant EMV platform was inefficient and added another layer of complexity to the tech stack, so they asked if we could develop an EMV terminal. Given that our name is CardFree and EMV devices are physical card readers, the jokes ensued. However, we’ve never been ones to back down from a challenge so our team got to work.


After 6 months of development, we presented the restaurant with EMV Plus, our restaurant EMV device integrated with their POS and processor. The device and merchant-branded UX offers enhanced fraud and chargeback protection and the most robust set of features on the market, accepting multiple methods of payment via card or mobile device (dip, swipe, or tap). By implementing the new restaurant EMV in conjunction with other CardFree products, the restaurant has been able to leverage a single vendor for a unified UX and customer insights across payment channels.

“CardFree is truly our most agile, intelligent, capable, trustworthy partner. They’ve been along our side through many invocations from our integrated call center payment to accepting EMV devices… CardFree is one of the few vendors I trust will solve some of the toughest payment issues in the industry.”
– VP of Technology

Universal Payment Layer

By using CardFree payment products, the restaurant is able to utilize a single checkout process for all methods of payment. Whereas previously, for example, there may have been separate payment processes for phoned-in orders vs. orders paid via EMV, CardFree allows the restaurant to use one checkout process for all orders, creating a much easier, streamlined system for both staff and customers.


Additionally, all orders, including third-party delivery, are processed through CardFree’s Universal Payment Layer, allowing the restaurant to see holistic customer insights–what we call our “universal source of truth.”

CardFree restaurant EMV Device
CardFree restaurant customer insights


Improved Operational Efficiency

  • Text-To-Pay provides significant time savings for call center staff, allowing for higher takeout order volume. 
  • Pay@Table speeds up table turns, allowing for higher dine-in order volume.
  • Holistic business insights–CardFree’s merchant dashboard provides a comprehensive view of sales data and payment status across multiple payment channels.

Increased Revenue

  • Text-To-Pay has created profitability for the restaurant’s call center initiative, increasing phone order rates from 35% to 75% of all takeout orders.

Fraud and Chargeback Protection

  • By implementing CardFree EMV Plus, the restaurant aims to reduce in-restaurant fraud and chargebacks by 90%.