SOUTH WELLFLEET — The staff at PB Boulangerie Bistro have their hands buried deep in dough every day making the bakery’s delectable pastries, breads and treats — but they no longer have to have their hands in a cash drawer making change.
In December, the Cape Cod bakery and restaurant purchased a new cash register system that allows customers to insert coins and bills to pay their bill and get change back, all without the bakery’s staff having to handle any money.
After an employee rings up the purchase, the customer can feed in coins and a stack of bills and get back the precise change in seconds.
Even in a society that is moving more quickly toward mobile payments and has embraced debit and credit cards, the machines are proving a hit with customers — aided, in no small part, by the 5 percent discount given to cash customers and the no-fee ATM outside the bakery’s front door.
For the staff, it means an end to needing to constantly put on latex gloves to handle the food and rip them off to handle the money, said manager Kathleen Morris.
“I would have put new gloves on four times already by now,” she said on a recent Thursday morning, about 15 minutes after the bakery’s 7 a.m. opening.
Richard Straight, owner of New England Money Handling Systems of Hopkinton, which sold the machines to PB Boulangerie owner Philippe Rispoli, said the machines are the wave of the future, especially for establishments where the employees work with food and the public.
“You can avoid spreading sickness, and it offers a lot of clarity to people,” he said. “The staff doesn’t have to worry about someone getting the wrong change and trying to balance everything at the end of the night.”
Straight said the machines lease for about $300 a month, depending on the setup, and can also be purchased. The bills inside are sorted into cartridges, which can be swapped when full and stored on-site until they are taken to be deposited. The machines themselves are anchored much like an ATM, making a smash-and-grab robbery unlikely.
The machines also make it difficult for a customer to forget their change in the rush of grabbing their eclair — it won’t take the next customer’s money if there are still bills or coins waiting to be collected.
For Rispoli, the system is less about saving money on operations — although in a short summer season, every extra customer who can get through the line counts, he said — than it is allowing his staff to spend time interacting with their guests.
“It’s a first on Cape Cod,” Rispoli said. “It’s really something. It’s definitely a plus for the business.”
For the bakery’s early morning “book club” — a fancy name for friends who get together and gab first thing — the machines have had only a mild learning curve.
“I like it,” said Al Kogos, who owns the nearby Seaside Liquors. “It’s easier to operate, and it didn’t take me long to learn it.”
“It’s nice to have,” said Brita Tate, of Wellfleet. “You’ve got to get used to it, and remember to use it.”
The real test for the machines will come in the summer, when the line will stretch past the door for Rispoli’s delectables. But Morris said the staff already has noticed customers waiting in line see the machine used in front of them and are ready to go when it’s their turn at the cash register.
“We work for our customers,” said Rispoli. “This allows us to improve our service.”