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A Square Outage Hits the Service Industry Hard

The point-of-sale system has experienced widespread disruptions to multiple services

A close-up of a point of sale system from the technology company Square in a restaurant setting
Square’s point-of-sale system is used by millions of small businesses.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

On Thursday, the payment processing company Square experienced a widespread outage. The point-of-sale system is used by millions of small businesses, including restaurants and food vendors, and the network’s downtime left many of them unable to process transactions. The disruptions also affected phone support, online stores, and appointment management.

On Friday morning, Square wrote on its status tracker that “services are steadily regaining their functionality,” and as of this writing, some of the company’s tools appear to be back in action. Square, which was started in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, allows restaurants to not only process payments but also manage tables, inventory, marketing, and staffing.

Despite Square’s most recent update, a scan of social media posts suggests that some outages persist. “16. Hours. Later. Square is still down nationwide,” Cafe Fresco, a coffee shop in Crown Point, Indiana, posted Friday morning on the platform now known as X. The Hudson, New York restaurant Cafe Mutton also announced on Instagram Friday that it’s still experiencing difficulties with Square, which will affect its dinner service.

Some food businesses have gone cash only until Square is fully up and running. New York City’s Dame and Lords shared Zelle and Venmo handles on Instagram Thursday night for guests to send payment. (Adding another layer of complication: The payment system Cash App was also experiencing outages; both Cash App and Square are owned by Block.) Restaurants like Los Angeles’s Monroe Place and Spoon & Pork asked diners to call in pick-up orders instead of ordering online. Despite these workarounds, some small businesses are citing lost sales as a result of the outage. One upside for customers: A Brooklyn Van Leeuwen location gave away free single scoops of ice cream.

Update: September 7, 2023, 2:50 p.m.: A spokesperson for Block, Square’s parent company, provided the following statement to Eater:

We can confirm that the disruption to Square payment acceptance has been resolved. As we continue to get all functionality back up and running, we are investigating what improvements we need to make to prevent these situations in the future. We apologize for the inconvenience this disruption has caused to businesses.

We’ll continue to update and social media with more information as we have it.