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Your money's no good here: Sweetgreen is going cashless

Not only does Sweetgreen want to slim down your waistline, it wants to cut inches from your wallet, too. No, that isn’t to say that the salad chain is going to be doubling its prices, but rather that it will no longer accept those wads of cash you’ve stuffed in your pocket. That’s right — the chain’s New Year’s resolution will be to go entirely cashless. In 2017, none of its 64 locations will allow you to pay with paper and coins. Rather, you had better come prepared with plastic, or with a digital wallet in hand.

The company’s rationale is rather straightforward. For one, a cashless store cuts down on the chances of robbery, helping to keep Sweetgreen employees safe. Further, the absence of cash also means no need for armored cars to transport tender to and from various locations. There are hygienic reasons, too, as Sweetgreen founders Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet told Fast Company. Employees won’t have to worry about handling money, which means they don’t have to worry about transferring the germs carried about on cash to your kale. And of course, it helps the bottom line — a cashless store often translates to a faster store, which means that employees could “perform 5 to 15 percent more transactions every hour when they don’t have to handle money.” Which means more money for Sweetgreen.

Ultimately, though, Sweetgreen notes that it’s just preparing for the digital revolution, which it predicts will be one in which cash is no longer king. As Neman told Fast Company, “Cash has become such a small piece of our tender. When we opened nine years ago, it was 40 percent. Now, all stores are between 10 and 15 percent.”

Already, a number of restaurant chains have made the switch away from paper money, and chains like Starbucks now encourage customers to order ahead by way of an app, and simply pick up their food and beverage after paying by mobile. That’s something Sweetgreen is looking into as well. “We’re working on ASAP ordering,” Neman told Fast Company. “So it will be much more like Uber, where it says you can have your salad in six minutes or eight minutes.”

At the end of the day, Sweetgreen has always been about simplification, Neman said in an interview with Business Insider. And his company is ready to introduce tech to the food industry to do so. “The restaurant industry is so behind on this and so ripe for innovation,” Neman concluded. “It’s very, very exciting.”