A kitchen display system (KDS) is a screen or set of screens that pair with your Square POS to display orders in your kitchen or food prep stations. A KDS can replace paper ticket printers, handwritten orders, or verbally calling items that need to be prepared. A kitchen display system can help your restaurant, food truck, or coffee shop prepare orders faster and more accurately.
Kitchen display systems are more than just digital printers. Modern kitchen display systems improve the overall efficiency of your food production by placing a host of valuable features at your fingertips. Some of the benefits of a Square-compatible KDS include:
Slow speed of service is one of the top complaints from unhappy customers. Staying organized helps your kitchen focus on preparing orders, and as a result you’ll be able to deliver orders faster. Color coded headers that change from green to yellow to red the longer tickets are open provide a visual indication of how well the kitchen is performing and if any orders are falling behind. This information can help you get ahead of any problems and stop them in their tracks.
Paper tickets can easily end up on the ground or in the BBQ sauce if you’re not careful. It’s easy for paper tickets to get mixed up on the rail so you’re not making the right order next. And when you need to recall an order? Hopefully the ticket is on the spindle and not in the trash. A KDS helps solve all these problems by keeping orders organized on an easy-to-navigate tablet display.
When your kitchen is more productive it means you can fulfill more orders in the same amount of time. This increases throughput and leads to higher revenue and happier guests. The other advantage of increased productivity is you can achieve similar throughput with fewer employees, which is critical given how difficult staffing is in hospitality these days. A KDS can help you continue to serve your customers well without needing to add more employees to a shift.
There are several things to consider when searching for the best kitchen display system for Square point of sale.
There are a number of options when it comes to choosing a KDS that works with your Square or Square of Restaurants POS.
Fresh KDS is a great choice if you are looking for a robust kitchen display system that you can customize to match your kitchen’s workflow. Fresh KDS has two options for connecting to Square: either through the cloud-based API or by emulating a printer. The advantage of using the printer emulation method is that Fresh KDS will continue to function even if your internet goes out. The Fresh KDS app is available on both iOS and Android, providing you with a lot of flexibility in choosing your hardware. Fresh KDS also has some of the most advanced features on the market, including multiple options for communicating between stations, the ability to send order status updates directly to customers, and curbside “I’m Here” functionality. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, Fresh KDS also offers a very affordable entry level plan.
Square’s native kitchen display system is another solid choice. It aggregates orders from multiple sources, including the point of sale app, Square online, and other third party platforms. Separate expeditor and prep modes create different views for each station type. Square KDS also has some useful features that connect the KDS tablet back to the POS, such as the ability to 86 menu items from the KDS screen. Square KDS was originally only available on iPads, but starting in 2024 Square KDS will no longer work on iOS and will only be available on Android.
In addition to a KDS, Flash Order builds software for self-ordering kiosks, drive thru management, and web/mobile app orders. All their products integrate with Square. Flash Order’s KDS is a good choice if you use their other products because it will simplify your tech stack. However, since the KDS is not the sole focus of the business it lacks some of the advanced features found in other kitchen display systems.