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Mastering Efficiency: Best Payroll Software for Restaurants Unveiled

Mastering Efficiency: Best Payroll Software for Restaurants UnveiledMastering Efficiency: Best Payroll Software for Restaurants Unveiled
Find the best payroll software for your restaurant on our blog

Updated: February 26th, 2024

Running a restaurant is no easy feat, as the industry constantly evolves at a breakneck pace amidst complex challenges around payroll management.

Forget simple hourly wages and 9-to-5 shifts; today's restaurants deal with messy tip calculations, overlapping schedules, frequent labor law changes, and high turnover, and keeping it all straight while staying compliant is no cakewalk.

That's why restaurants need purpose-built, specialized payroll software to handle these industry quirks. We're talking about payroll solutions tightly integrated with scheduling systems to manage tips, wage differentials, and everything in between.

In this blog, we will explore the top 5 picks to help you pick the right one for you and take the stress out of restaurant payroll. 

Challenges Faced by Restaurant Payroll Software Users

What challenges do restaurant owners face?
What challenges do restaurant owners face?

The right payroll software can be a godsend for busy restaurateurs. They face various unique payroll hurdles, like keeping up with evolving labor laws and dealing with fluctuating employee schedules with split shifts, overtime, and more. Equally important, properly tracking and allocating tips across tipped staff is another major headache.

Throw in managing multiple pay rates across different job codes, along with notoriously high turnover and onboarding of new hires, and it's easy for even simple payroll mistakes to snowball. As a result, high-quality software is designed to solve those issues, but proper setup, training, and ongoing support are critical.

What Restaurant Payroll Software Should Do

The features of a restaurant payroll software
The features of a restaurant payroll software

When evaluating payroll software solutions for your restaurant, you will want to consider a few key features. At a minimum, the platform should:

  • Process paychecks accurately and on time: The aim of payroll software is to reliably calculate timesheets into paychecks that go out the door to your staff like clockwork. No restaurant employee will stick around if you flub their pay or miss a payday
  • Handle tip reporting/distribution: Tips can get messy without the right tools, therefore, you will need software that lets servers easily declare credit cards and cash tips. When declared, the software should then accurately distribute those pooled tips across shifts while calculating the required tip credits
  • Automate tax filing and stay compliant: Choose software that could also calculate and file all federal, state, and local payroll taxes on your behalf. It should also be up to date on compliance so you do not get burned by labor laws governing breaks, overtime, sick pay, and so on
  • Provide employee self-service access: Your staff expects payroll information and basic HR tools to be readily accessible from their phones. Viewing pay stubs, requesting time off, updating direct deposit details, editing information, and more should all be included in the employee self-service portal
  • Integrate easily with other systems: Payroll touches so many areas of operations, and your software should easily integrate with other core systems like POS terminals, employee scheduling, time clocks, and accounting software to streamline workflows

If your payroll software can deliver all these core functions, you'll have a rock-solid restaurant payroll process. Everything else, like onboarding tools, benefits administration, and analytics, is just icing on the cake.

Overview of Top Payroll Software for Restaurants

What payroll software is best for restaurants?
What payroll software is best for restaurants?

Several payroll software solutions stand out as excellent choices for restaurants due to their industry-specific features and benefits. Here's a closer look at some of the leading options:


OnPay’s platform seamlessly integrates time tracking and payroll processing for both tipped and non-tipped employees, eliminating the need to decipher handwritten time cards or do crazy calculations in your head. They take the guesswork out of things like overtime, double time, split shifts, and tip allocation.

Additionally, if you have multiple locations, OnPay makes managing payroll across all your establishments on a single platform easy. New hire paperwork, W2s, tax filings - OnPay handles all the messy back-end work so you can focus on helping your staff deliver excellent service. 

With a flat monthly fee of $40 plus an additional $4 per employee, this provider offers a transparent pricing model that is easy to understand and budget for.


Gusto seamlessly integrates time tracking, PTO policies, payroll processing, compliance, and even health benefits and workers' compensation if needed. All that is required is to enter employee hours, and Gusto takes care of the rest! Gusto simplifies processes by offering automatic tax calculations, filing, and direct deposits to employee accounts.

The software even provides slick self-service tools for employees to track hours, view pay stubs, and manage their data, which keeps your team happy and empowered. Pricing is refreshingly straightforward - a base fee of $40/month plus $6/employee.

Square Payroll

Square Payroll works hand-in-hand with POS and kitchen display systems (KDS) to centralize payroll, time tracking, benefits, tips, and more. The software pulls real-time sales and timecard data directly from your Square devices to accurately calculate payroll. For that reason, there is no need to deal with cumbersome spreadsheets or data imports, as Square Payroll automatically handles taxes, compliance, direct deposit, and more.

You can also access the intuitive web dashboard anywhere to run payroll, send direct deposits, and give employees access to self-service tools on the go. Additionally, because it's built right into the robust Square ecosystem, you can also opt to get hiring, onboarding, and team management tools. 

This provider’s software pricing comes at $35/month plus $6/employee.

Paychex Flex

Paychex makes it simple to consolidate employee data across locations and departments. With their configurable platform, you can track locations, job codes, schedules, benefits, and more for a unified view of your workforce. 

The platform seamlessly calculates tips, meal/rest break premiums, and geographic pay differentials based on location. They also handle everything from new hire onboarding to year-end tax filings, and you can access knowledgeable HR support whenever needed.

Pricing is customized based on your business needs and workforce size, but plans start around $39/month plus $5 per employee.


SurePayroll makes payroll processing a breeze. All you have to do is log in and enter employee hours and pay rates, and the system handles the rest. It accurately calculates paychecks, deductions, tips, and files and pays payroll taxes for you automatically.

The software generates excellent self-service tools, too. Employees can access pay stubs, W-2s, and other personal information through a handy mobile app and an online portal and even enter time off requests right in the app.

Pricing is super straightforward. It starts at just $19.99 monthly for the base fee, plus $4 per employee. That's it - no surprise charges or add-ons to worry about.

The basic full-service plan lacks some of the robust employee management and advanced HR functionality of pricier platforms, which cost $29.99 monthly plus $5 per employee. 

However, for the average small restaurant just looking for reliable, affordable payroll, SurePayroll could be a perfect fit since it is easy to use and comes with solid customer support.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Payroll Software for Restaurants

How to choose the best payroll software for your restaurant
How to choose the best payroll software for your restaurant

With so many options on the menu, choosing the right payroll software for your restaurant can feel overwhelming. But don't sweat it! Just take a step back and think through your specific needs.

The most crucial factor is finding software that can adequately handle all the payroll quirks unique to the restaurant industry. Some of the factors include: 

- Variable employee schedules with split shifts and overtime
- Tracking tips and tip allocation
- Compliance with tipped wage laws
- Multiple pay rates and job codes
- Calculations for break premiums and other byzantine labor rules

Think through what HR capabilities and self-service options you need, too. Do you just want basic payroll processing and tax compliance? Or could you benefit from tools for onboarding, PTO tracking, time and attendance, employee self-service portals, and more?

Your budget is a crucial factor as well. Payroll software can range from $20 per month with basic features to $100+ for comprehensive services. If you're cost-conscious, look at providers with transparent, fixed monthly pricing and no surprise add-on fees.


Selecting the ideal payroll software for the restaurant industry requires meticulously assessing unique challenges. Restaurant owners can effortlessly ensure compliance and streamline operations by utilizing solutions such as OnPay, Gusto, Square Payroll, Paychex Flex, and SurePayroll. Each solution provides unique benefits customized to individual businesses' specific requirements and financial capacities, including smooth integrations and intuitive interfaces. By using the best payroll software, restaurant owners can optimize the quality of dining experiences, streamline payroll operations, and enhance employee satisfaction. 

To better understand payroll providers, check out our reviews, blog posts, and comparison tool before making your final decision. 

Get Your Free Payroll Solution Quote Now!

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