The Plastic Oh-No Ban
Will a high-end cocktail bar dare survive on cash alone?
WHEN YOU SIP cocktails at the Zig Zag Café, you escape to a more convivial and classier time, a time when Coca-Cola was made with real cocaine and haberdasher was a word that came up regularly in conversation. Now Kacy Fitch, co-owner of the pink-lit cocktail bar carved into the Pike Street Hill Climb, might complete this old-timey illusion—by converting to a cash-only payment policy.
Lift the needle on that phonograph a second—did he say “cash only”? Zig Zag is dangerously fun, the cocktails dangerously delicious. While away an evening here and you’re likely to wake up with a pulsating frontal lobe and a jaw-dropping receipt crumpled up in your coat pocket (there is nothing old-timey about the drink prices). Demanding cash would seem to curb such spontaneous hedonism, something surely outside Zig Zag’s interest.
Indeed, Fitch has been frustrated by changing compliance codes and irritating glitches with his online credit-card system for years, but escaping the plastic prison always seemed impossible. Then, a year ago, bartender Murray Stenson mentioned, upon returning from a trip to Manhattan, that cash was the only accepted currency at classic cocktail chapels like Little Branch or Milk and Honey. Zig Zag’s NYC equivalents, these bars are notoriously packed; a cash-only policy has never kept that city’s cocktail crazies away.
A few months ago, Fitch started an informal poll among Zig Zag regulars to gauge whether they would mind forking over bills. Most were on board—provided Fitch install an ATM. He now says he is “likely” to do just that, transitioning completely away from credit cards by this July.