The Best Payroll Software for Restaurants

Payroll software isn’t one-size-fits-all. But the best payroll services for restaurants will handle all federal, state, and local taxes, keep you compliant with minimum wage, breaks, and overtime, and give you peace of mind that payroll is accurate and on time, every time. It should be able to grow as your business grows, all with a price tag that won’t break the bank.

So which one is right for your business? We’ve put together a handy guide to compare all the best payroll apps for restaurants to help you make the right choice.

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1. Gusto – Best all-in-one restaurant payroll software

Overview

Gusto tops our list for best restaurant payroll software with a wealth of easy-to-use, people-first features and fully integrated and automated functionality. Payroll is out the door in just a few clicks, and their intuitive interface simplifies even the most complex tasks—no matter how many time-off requests you’re trying to juggle.


Compared with other players in the space, Gusto offers a more robust set of tools at a more attractive price point than behemoths like Paychex and ADP. Their customer service is some of the highest rated in the industry, and their pricing is transparent with no hidden fees, which is becoming a rarity.


Gusto also won the top spot for ‘Best Restaurant Payroll Software for Small Businesses in 2023’ by Fit Small Business. Let’s dig into what sets them apart.

AUTOMATIC TAX FILING & COMPLIANCE

Every time you run payroll, all federal, state, and local taxes are automatically calculated, filed, and paid along with benefits deductions, workers’ comp, and PTO. Gusto handles all your 1099s and W-2s, and they’ll keep you compliant with meal times, breaks, and tipped minimum wage. You can easily enter cash tips, and they’ll automatically calculate and adjust in compliance with the tip credit minimum wage requirement. This can be a lifesaver for small businesses that struggle with complex payroll tax requirements.

FULLY INTEGRATED TIME TRACKING & PAYROLL

Restaurants need time tracking that seamlessly syncs to payroll. While Gusto’s time clock app isn’t the most feature-heavy on the market, it’s incredibly easy to use, and timesheets and hours can be reviewed and approved by a manager in just a few clicks. No need to set up an integration with third-party software or deal with multiple logins and payments each month. 

Clocking in is easy for employees and can be done from web, mobile, or time kiosk. With GPS-enabled clock-ins you can see where employees are clocking in from and restrict clock-in access based on custom locations. 


For extra accountability and peace of mind, you can add on Gusto’s time clock kiosk—a centralized clock-in clock-out system that lets employees easily clock in and out with a 4-digit PIN. Got multiple locations? Add as many kiosks as you need at no extra cost.

EMPLOYEE SELF-SERVICE

Employee self-onboarding makes it easy to upload documents, e-sign contracts, and gives employees lifetime access to paystubs, W-2s, and more. Employees can view their paychecks, request time off, clock in and out, and access financial management tools right from the app.  

BUILT-IN COMPLIANCE & REPORTING

Gusto’s built-in compliance means you never have to worry about missing breaks, meal times, or miscalculating overtime. FICA tip credits and tipped minimum wage are automatically calculated, and their powerful job- and workforce costing reports help you to better manage your team and keep labor costs down.

POWERFUL HR & BENEFITS

The hospitality industry deals with high turnover, and having a system that makes it easier to hire, onboard, and train new team members is a huge time-saver in the long run. While their more powerful HR tools like applicant tracking and job postings are only available with Plus and Premium plans, even their basic plan has what you need to help new employees hit the ground running. 

Benefits administration is also included at no extra cost, which sets them apart from many competitors. Employees can self-enroll, saving time and simplifying the enrollment process.

Key Features

  • Seamlessly integrated payroll, HR, and benefits
  • Payroll, taxes, and compliance in all 50 states
  • Next-day / 2-day direct deposit
  • Automated FICA tip credit calculations
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Unlimited payroll runs 
  • Pay by direct deposit, check, or prepaid debit card
  • Pay-as-you-go workers’ comp
  • Automated timesheets
  • Built-in compliance for employee breaks, overtime, minimum wage, and labor laws
  • Centralized clock-in kiosk or mobile app clock in
  • Robust workforce costing reports
  • Employee-self service
  • AI-powered payroll and workforce reporting
  • Hundreds of software integrations

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Intuitive, easy to use interfaceTime tracking tools lack a scheduling feature
Taxes and compliance are fully automated and don’t cost extraCalculates, but doesn’t file Form 8846
All-in-one solution for payroll, time, benefits, and HRTime-tracking, PTO, and more powerful HR tools only included in Plus and Premium plans
Unlimited pay rates, schedules, and payroll runs at no extra cost
Transparent pricing, no hidden fees
Fully integrated time tracking
Seamless integration with time tracking and POS software like 7Shifts, Upserve, and When I Work

Pricing

Gusto offers three pricing plans, with the Simple plan starting at $40 per month plus $6 per person per month. The Simple plan includes Payroll on AutoPilot along with multiple pay rates and schedules and unlimited payroll runs. It also comes loaded with basic support for hiring and onboarding, and benefits administration, but it lacks support for multi-state payroll as well as time tracking and PTO.  

Plus plans start at $80 per month plus $12 per person per month and include time-tracking, PTO, multi-state payroll, and next-day direct deposit along with the full suite of advanced hiring, onboarding, and team management tools. 

Premium plans are priced exclusively, and include everything Gusto has to offer with no hidden monthly fees. For more info on Premium pricing, contact their sales team today

Free Trial? Yes, Gusto is free until you run your first payroll.

Free Version: No.

Transform your payroll processes with Gusto, a platform that’s already the choice of over 300,000 businesses.

2. Homebase – Best restaurant payroll software for shift scheduling

Overview

Homebase is an all-in-one scheduling, time tracking, payroll, and HR solution created specifically for shift-based businesses. Homebase has one of the most robust scheduling tools on the market. Auto-schedule by availability or using sales and labor forecasts. Shift swapping is a breeze, and communication between team members is easy within the app.

While Homebase is more of a time-tracking tool with a payroll and HR add-on, they’ve got everything hourly-based businesses need to manage their teams. Their HR suite includes hiring and onboarding with automated job postings across multiple job boards, employee happiness surveys and no-cost benefit options, and secure document storage and compliance designed with shift-based businesses in mind. Sick leave, PTO, and vacation time are easy to manage and track, and a team of HR pros is available to answer your compliance questions. 

While there are more powerful HR-focused platforms on the market, Homebase is an easy choice for shift-based businesses looking to streamline their tech stack while still accessing all the people tools and functionality they need. Or if you want a more powerful payroll tool while scheduling with Homebase, they also integrate with the most popular restaurant payroll providers including Gusto, Paychex, ADP, Quickbooks, and more. 

Key Features

  • Designed specifically for shift-based businesses 
  • Powerful time and scheduling tools 
  • Recruiting, hiring, and paperless onboarding
  • Payroll add-on available with automated tax filings
  • Built-in compliance for meal time, breaks, and minimum wage
  • Integrations with popular POS, recruiting, accounting, and payroll software
  • Robust, native communication tools
  • Mobile app for time tracking, communication, shift swapping, and more
  • Employee happiness surveys and retention tools

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Automated scheduling saves hours each monthPayroll add-on is expensive
People-focused tools to keep your team happy and engagedFull suite of HR tools is only available in the All-in-One plan
Competitively priced, even for top-tier planDifficult to correct time for incorrect clock-ins
Easily integrates with payroll providersOccasional software bugs reported

Pricing

Homebase offers four pricing tiers. Their Basic plan is free and includes just scheduling, time, and hiring features for up to 20 employees at a single location. 

The Essentials plan is $20 a month billed annually for unlimited employees and includes team communication, performance tracking, and remote and field tools. 

At $48 per month (billed annually), the Plus plan adds on labor cost control and budgets, time-off and PTO tracking, as well as permissions and policies. The All-in-One plan adds the HR tools you need to thrive including new-hire onboarding, employee document storage, and their full HR and compliance suite at $80 per month. 

For the payroll add-on, it’s $39 a month + $6 per employee paid per month.

Homebase offers no-commitment monthly plans at slightly higher prices than listed above. 

Free Trial? Yes, 14 days.

Free Plan: Yes, basic scheduling, time, and hiring features for up to 20 employees at a single location.

Learn more about Homebase

3. ADP Run – Best restaurant payroll for larger restaurants

Overview

ADP is the largest payroll provider in the world and offers multiple payroll solutions depending on the size of your business. Roll by ADP is an affordable solution aimed at startups and very small businesses, but comes with bare-bones payroll functionality, and we think there are better options out there for this market. 

For small- and medium-sized businesses they offer ADP Run (fewer than 50 employees) and ADP Workforce Now (50–999 employees). ADP Run includes payroll, onboarding, and reporting features, while ADP Workforce Now also includes retention tools like employee engagement and development. 

For businesses with fewer than 50 employees, ADP Run is a highly rated payroll platform. It has all the powerful payroll tools you’d expect from a major player including automated tax fillings, new-hire reporting, direct deposit, and multi-jurisdiction payroll support. But it’s not competitively priced, even for the most basic package. If you want any popular tools like time tracking or benefits administration, you’ll have to pay for an add-on. If you need to pay contractors, you’ll have to purchase a separate tool. 

For businesses that are quickly scaling, however, ADP’s robust list of payroll, time tracking, and HR features, along with their a la carte pricing can make it an attractive candidate to grow as you grow. Especially if you’re planning on crossing that crucial “50 employee threshold” in the near future. It’s not the cheapest service on the block, but there’s no question they have the tool you need to run your business. And when you’re ready to move up from small biz to medium-sized, their Workforce Now platform is even more powerful.

The only questions are: how much does it cost, and is that included in the plan I have? Getting the answer requires reaching out for a custom quote. 

Key Features

  • Fully integrated payroll, HR, time tracking, and benefits
  • Payroll, taxes, and compliance in all 50 states
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Pay by direct deposit, check, or prepaid debit card
  • Next-day direct deposit
  • Over 700 software integrations available
  • Job and workforce costing reports
  • Mobile app
  • Features siloed based on # of employees

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Tons of products and features for maximum scalabilitySoftware feels clunky and dated
Largest payroll provider in the worldSlow customer service
Robust HR options for businesses with 50999 employeesPricing is not transparent and difficult to piece together
No out-of-the-box payroll solution
State Unemployment Insurance not included in base package
Requires an additional product to pay contractors

Pricing

ADP’s pricing tiers are confusing at best. For businesses with fewer than 50 employees, they offer 4 pricing tiers: Essential Payroll; Enhanced Payroll that includes wage garnishment, unemployment, background checks, and job postings; Complete Payroll and HR+ that adds on some HR tools like employee handbooks, proactive compliance alerts, a job description wizard, and access to the HR help desk; and HR Pro Payroll and HR, that includes an applicant tracking system, onboarding tools, and an LMS. 

ADP no longer posts pricing for any of their packages, so you’ll need to contact sales in order to get a quote. According to Forbes, users reported pricing starts from $79 per month plus $4 per employee per month, but it’s unclear if that’s still accurate, or how much any of the add-ons like time tracking and benefits cost. No doubt the price per month can start adding up quickly.  

ADP might make sense for quickly growing companies who need a custom-built package that’s ready to scale, but for more agile startups and small businesses looking for an easy, out-of-the box solution, Gusto consistently takes the top spot.  

Free Trial? Yes, three months free on select products. 

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about ADP

4. Square Payroll – Best payroll for restaurants using Square POS

Overview

Square Payroll is an obvious choice for restaurants that are already using Square’s POS software. Employee hours and sales data seamlessly flow into the payroll system, eliminating the need for manual data entry. Tips are automatically imported from the POS, and they make it easy to pool and split tips if you need to. 

Square’s payroll platform sports a user-friendly interface, making it easy for restaurant managers and owners to handle payroll tasks without the need for extensive training. 

Like most well-rated payroll providers, Square Payroll also does a lot of the heavy lifting for you, from calculating wages to processing taxes, reducing the risk of errors and keeping you compliant. They also provide basic reporting tools, allowing restaurant owners to gain insights into labor costs, employee performance, and other critical metrics. These insights empower decision-making, enabling businesses to optimize staffing levels and control expenses effectively, however they don’t offer any custom reporting.  

Square also offers time tracking and scheduling capabilities, which make it a great option to streamline your tech stack and have everything you need in one place. Time tracking tools cost extra, but they’re free for teams up to 5 people. If you’re already using Square’s POS for your restaurant, using their payroll software is an easy choice.

Key Features

  • Full service multi-state payroll
  • Built-in time tracking and scheduling tools
  • Shift swapping and time-off requests
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Off-cycle payroll
  • Automated tax filings
  • Pool and split tips feature
  • Pay by check, direct deposit, or Square Cash App
  • Instant payments available 
  • Employee self-service

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Intuitive, easy-to-use interfaceFewer HR offerings than other competitors 
Seamless integration with Square POSLimited customer support
Free basic time trackingFour-day direct deposit processing time
Affordable, flat-rate pricingNo custom reporting options
Powerful time & scheduling tools available

Pricing

Square’s payroll pricing is simple and straightforward. You’ll pay $35 a month plus $6 per employee per month. This includes all of the payroll features they offer along with time cards and automated tax filings. If you want to access their more robust time tracking and scheduling tools, you’ll need to sign up for “Square Shifts.” It’s free for up to 5 team members, and after that you’ll pay a per-person-per-month rate that starts at $4 and gets lower the more team members you have.  

Free trial? No. 

Free plan? No. 

Learn more about Square Payroll

5. OnPay – Best basic payroll software for restaurants

Overview

OnPay is consistently rated as the best value payroll software for small businesses. They offer a simple, straightforward set of tools at one low price. There are no tiers or extras to figure out. Their single package comes with payroll, taxes, compliance, basic HR tools, and benefits administration in all 50 states. They support multi-state payroll as well as multiple pay rates and schedules. With OnPay, what you see is what you get.  

OnPay is a great choice for companies that need payroll with a few HR extras and aren’t planning on growing in the near future. But if you’re looking for more advanced features like time tracking or workforce costing reports, Onpay probably isn’t robust enough for your needs.

Key Features

  • Automated federal, state, and local taxes
  • Overtime, tips, and FICA calculations
  • Form 8846 filings
  • New hire compliance and payroll in all 50 states
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Pay by direct deposit, paper check, or prepaid debit card
  • 2-day or 4-day direct deposit
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Employee self-service with lifetime access
  • Basic HR functionality including onboarding workflows and document storage

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
A single price includes (almost) everything they offerNo room to grow as your business grows
Great for basic payroll needsOnly 11 software integrations supported
Form 8846 filing includedCharge extra to print and mail W-2s and 1099s
No benefits administration feesNo email or chat support

Pricing

OnPay has a single pricing structure with no hidden fees: $40 per month plus $6 per employee per month. All of their payroll, HR, and benefits functionality is included, and you only pay each month for the employees you paid. OnPay will create 1099s and W-2s that you can download and send out, but if you want them to physically print and mail them, that will cost extra. 

Free Trial? Yes. Three months free for a limited time. 

Free Plan: No. 

Learn more about OnPay

6. Paychex Flex – Best restaurant payroll software for customization

Overview

Paychex Flex offers a wide range of payroll features tailored to meet the complex needs of the restaurant industry. It includes tools for managing employee wages, tips, and compliance with relevant tax regulations. This is crucial in an industry with unique tax considerations, such as tip reporting and FICA tip credits.

Paychex Flex provides employee self-service capabilities, allowing staff to access their payroll information, tax documents, and pay stubs. The software integrates with other Paychex solutions, creating a seamless ecosystem for businesses. This integration can be beneficial for restaurants using additional Paychex services, such as time and attendance tracking or HR management.

While Paychex is more expensive than other providers, they offer custom pricing based on your specific needs. Their base plan is lacking in some essentials including W-2 and 1099 filing, State Unemployment Insurance, time tracking, wage garnishment, paper checks, and tip disbursement, and adding all the features you need can add up quickly. 

The best part about Paychex is that any tools you need can be added on to whichever plan you have, meaning you can build a product without paying for tons of extra features you don’t need. 

Key Features

  • Tip tracking, calculating, and pooling
  • Easy electronic tip distribution at the end of each shift
  • Self-service employee app
  • Mobile payroll app
  • Time tracking and shift scheduling add-on available
  • Mileage tracking with instant employee expense reimbursement
  • Powerful hiring, onboarding, and team management tools
  • Built-in learning management system for training new-hires

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Best tipping functionalityTime-tracking is paid add-on
Integrated POS solution offered through CloverMany features only included in the highest-tier plan
Fully customizableCustomer support isn’t great
Powerful HR suiteNo benefits administration

Pricing

Paychex Flex offers three pricing tiers, Essentials, Select, and Pro. The Essentials package costs $39 per month plus $5 per employee per month. Both the Select and Pro plans are pricing upon request. You can build a plan that meets your needs, but you may end up paying more than many out-of-the-box payroll and HR providers. 

Free Trial: No. 

Free Plan: No.

Learn more about Paychex Flex

7. SurePayroll – Best budget payroll for restaurants

Overview

Sure Payroll is an online payroll and tax solution for small businesses. SurePayroll is owned by Paychex, but the product is very different from Paychex Flex. While they’ve got all the basic functionality you’d expect to run restaurant payroll like overtime, minimum wage alerts, and FICA calculations, SurePayroll offers much more limited capabilities in terms of HR management. They do offer basic benefits administration along with 401(k)s and workers’ comp, but you’ll pay extra for benefits, and the monthly cost can add up if you want other advanced features like time tracking and local and multi-state tax filing. SurePayroll also charges extra to integrate with your favorite time tracking software, which is a rarity among payroll providers.   

Ultimately, SurePayroll is a great choice for small restaurant owners with very basic needs who aren’t looking to get HR and people tools bundled with their payroll. As soon as you’re looking for hiring, onboarding, and benefits, a more robust platform like Gusto quickly becomes attractive from a cost perspective.

Key Features

  • Federal, state, and local tax filing available
  • Overtime, tips, and FICA calculations
  • Wage garnishments
  • New hire compliance and payroll in all 50 states
  • Multiple pay rates and schedules
  • Pay by direct deposit or paper check
  • Unlimited payroll runs
  • Online paystubs 
  • New-hire reporting and pre-employment screening

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Very affordable base packageIntegrations cost extra
Night and weekend hours for customer serviceLocal and multi-state tax filings cost extra
Same-day and next-day direct deposit availableLacks transparent pricing

Pricing

SurePayroll’s pricing is no longer listed on their site, but they offer both self-service and full-service payroll options. If you’re comfortable filing your own taxes, the self-service payroll can save you a pretty penny each month, with user-reported pricing starting at just $19.99 per month plus $4 per employee per month. Upgrading to full service includes filing federal and state taxes, but you’ll still have to pay extra for local taxes or multi-state payroll. Full-service plans start at $29.99 per month plus $5 per month, which is still attractive pricing compared with most other providers on the list.  

As you start to add features like software integrations, time tracking, or local tax filing, the cost can add up quickly, so SurePayroll is best for those with basic payroll needs. 

Free trial? Yes. Six months free for a limited time. 

Free plan? No. 

Learn more about SurePayroll

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