The International Restaurant Day is coming again on next saturday, and hundreds of small restaurants will be popping around the world. The event started from Helsinki, Finland, and has been spreading since then to new countries and cities.
For small-time restaurants, payments are always a problem. Cash is cumbersome, and it is hard to keep enough change for your customers. Accepting credit or debit cards is really expensive, and if you want to set up a temporary restaurant you usually don't want to invest in a credit card terminal.
Bitcoin is nice, because in addition to solving the central banking problem, it also fixes the change money problem, and also it is very easy to accept bitcoin payments. Below I will visit different ways to accept bitcoin payments from your customers.
Easywallet.org - probably quickest and easiest
All platforms: iPhone, Android, laptops, any device with a web browser
To set up accepting payments, just go to easywallet.org and the service will generate a random web address for you, which is the key to your bitcoins. Bookmark it, and you can start accepting bitcoins. The service supports currency conversions with 24h exchange rate, so you don't need to worry about the exchange rate, and the rate will be fair to both buyer and seller.
From your settings, turn off "Use Static Address". This way the service will generate new address each time you receive payments, allowing you to separate your customers more effectively.
To move your bitcoins elsewhere, you can use QR code scanner on iPhone and Android. You can also send the URL to your email, and handle cashing out from your computer.
Electrum + acceptbit.com
Safe (only receiving), any device with browser, including iPhone, Android and Kindle!
This merchant solution is basic, but it works. Note that this is not a wallet software - it is only for receiving money. You have to pair the web site with an electrum installation.
Android standalone wallets
These are standalone, which means that they store private keys on your device.
BitcoinSpinner - really fast and easy, no block chain download.
Bitcoin Wallet (Schildbach) - oldest and stable. There is block chain download, therefore I can't recommend it to newbies.
Blockchain.info - browser-based, or standalone for Android and jailbroken iPhone. Haven't used it myself, but generally recommended lots in the community.
Electrum - my favourite desktop client. Friendly and instant.
Giving change as bitcoins
You have run out of pocket change and can't give your customer money? Maybe he/she will accept bitcoins. Print some paper wallets from bitaddress.org. When customer requests change, zap change amount worth of bitcoins to a paper, and give the paper to the customer. The customer can cash out his/her bitcoins from his computer at home.
Cashing out bitcoins to euros/dollars/fiat
There are lots of exchanges which allow you to convert your bitcoins to more traditional currencies. My favourite bank transfer-based exchange is bitstamp.net.
However, if you want to spur up the local bitcoin economy, look for a cash dealer at localbitcoins.com - you can also set up your own "selling bitcoins" advertisement, and help local people to get to know bitcoins a little better.
Hope everyone has a great Restaurant Day! If you consider accepting bitcoins and have any questions, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Feel free to ask anything. Also if you will accept bitcoins on next saturday, give me a note - I can advertise your pop-up restaurant for free :)