DC leaders trying to prevent ‘no cash’ restaurants

WASHINGTON DC – There once was a time when restaurants and bars, especially small businesses, had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the credit and debit card world.

Now some see a world without cash as ideal.

Some on the District of Columbia don’t want to see the idea spread and are introducing a measure that would require all food establishments to accept both cards and cash as forms of payment.

“There is a significant population in the District of Columbia– people who actually don’t have a credit card; many who don’t have a bank account and what happens is that when they go into a restaurant or into a fast food service place and they can’t use cash they are essentially excluded from that location,” said David Grosso, an At-Large Councilman for the District.

“I have personally seen it at places and that made me very concerned,” said Grosso.

David Grosso, At-Large D.C. Councilman.

Grosso didn’t provide any statistics that show how many businesses in Washington DC operate as cash only but cited some anecdotal evidence at restaurants like Sweetgreen.

He doesn’t buy their explanation that forgoing cash transactions creates a safer work environment for employees.

“I just think there have been lots of issues with crime in our city and I think trying to discriminate against a certain clientele is not the right approach,” said Grosso.

He suggested using lock boxes, safes or posting notices that not much cash is kept on hand at businesses as a way to prevent robberies.

While several customers we found in Glover Park say they prefer using credit cards to cash having a cash option is important to them.

“I don’t see why that’s mandatory,” said Rebecca Walcott, a frequent card user. “I feel like at a place like this I might just have a few bucks lying around and I want to buy something quickly so I feel like if it’s a convenience store or something like that they should be able to accept cash.”

We caught up with Walcott outside of Surfside in Glover Park. That’s another group of eateries that adopted a ‘cards only’ policy for food orders.

We tried contacting management for both Surfside and Sweetgreen but got no response before our deadline.

“The other day my friend was visiting from India and she wanted to buy a salad… and they were like, ‘Oh we are cash free and she couldn’t buy the salad,” said Kinu Harichandran, a student who believes businesses shouldn’t be allowed to adopt a cash only policy.

“My mom and dad wouldn’t go into a place where don’t take credit cards because they don’t have credit cards so it’s their loss.”

Here is a closer look at the bill proposed by Grosso. According to his website it already has the backing of 5 other council members.