Square makes a big hire
A conversation with Ming-Tai Huh, Square’s new GM of restaurants
Square and its recognizable hardware is popular in the coffee, bakery, and counter-service market for restaurants, especially in its hometown of San Francisco, where I live, too. But it’s made slower inroads into full service restaurants since Square for Restaurants launched five years ago.
Huh will manage the restaurant biz from Boston, home to (huge) rival, Toast. In fact, Huh spent seven years at Toast, touching nearly every party of the business. He’s also a seasoned restaurant operator, a partner in the Cambridge Street Hospitality Group with chef Will Gilson, which has six different Boston-area concepts. Its first, Puritan & Company, was a semi-finalist for the 2013 James Beard Awards’ best new restaurant. It lost to San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions — “We were obviously really happy to be in that company,” Huh told me of the restaurant’s early days.
Over the past couple of years, Square has slowly built up its restaurant offering. It launched a kitchen display system (KDS) in 2020 that shows orders on a configurable screen; in May it launched the KDS on Android devices. Square moved into a new restaurant category, launching Square for Franchises, also in May, so franchise operators can manage multiple locations through one dashboard — that tech came from the company’s 2022 acquisition of GoParrot. It’s launched new partnerships, including one with OpenTable to help restaurants better manage bookings and the dining room.
Huh is just one month into his new role, so his answers to my questions are big on vision and light on specifics, as you’d expect from someone stepping into a new role. Still, Huh readily touts Square’s seller-first ethos, reminding me more than once of his plans to keep the focus on restaurants that use the product.
Speaking of, does he use Square at his restaurants? Is it a job prerequisite? That answer — and a lot more info — is behind the paywall, because this is still an independently produced newsletter and subscription revenue is how I’m able to continue this work. Read on for more.
Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Expedite: So… congrats on the new gig. How’s it going?
Ming-Tai Huh: “It’s going great. I love the restaurant tech business.”
You and me both. You worked in restaurants before you worked in restaurant technology, right?