Your cash isn't good here, restaurant tells patrons

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Suze Orman isn't gonna like this.

Neither is any personal finance coach worth her salt. The steady message coming from most of them has been the same drumbeat of wisdom: Cut off those credit cards! Stop buying on credit! Only spend money you have in your hand!

Commerce, a restaurant in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, thinks that last suggestion is just the problem: That's why the place sent out a strange press release to publications including New York magazine that announced a brand new payment policy for its customers: No more cash, only credit cards.

Your money is no good there.

"With robberies on the rise in the West Village," the release said, the new policy, "will eliminate the dangerous situation that employees face when walking to local banks with large sums of cash."

Cash-only policies can be a stumbling block to a sociable evening. We've all been to a dinner where someone in our party had to bail on the coffee to go find and ATM because they realized too late that plastic wasn't accepted. But requiring customers to work on credit? That's a new kind of switcheroo.


One, it must be pointed out, that is more about the accounting convenience of the restaurant than of its customers, although that didn't stop Commerce from attempting to spin the change to make it seem as if it was devised with them in mind: "So forget about that last-minute trip to the ATM and head to Commerce for a relaxing meal."

How would you like to bet that the restaurant starts making more money because of this? When money ceases to be tangible, people are likely to spend more of it. At Commerce, a haunt for a certain self-congratulatory crowd, main courses cost in the upper $20s and the oven they're cooked in cost $100,000. In a way, the credit-only stipulation is a clever way to filter out the "wrong" crowd.

In what's perhaps a great historical irony, Commerce is located in a former Prohibition-era speakeasy. Once again, the tenant of its space is in the financial margins of society, free of government-issued paperwork.
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