As automation sweeps the restaurant industry, fast food execs may look for inspiration from Eatsa — a small chain that is powered by machines instead of people.
Eatsa, which opened its first location in San Francisco in 2015, functions essentially like a vending machine or a high-tech automat that spits out freshly-prepared bowls of quinoa. There are real people behind the scenes preparing the food, but instead of cashiers there are kiosks.
Eatsa has expanded from a single location in San Francisco to five restaurants in California, New York, and Washington, DC.
After its first location in New York opened in December, we were eager to see for ourselves what it’s like to eat at a restaurant with no employees in sight.
Outside Eatsa, which is located in Midtown Manhattan, a sign advertises one of the restaurant’s major attractions — it’s affordable price. Almost everything costs just $6.95.
Inside, customers are immediately faced with a nontraditional set up. Instead of flocking to a single place to order and pay, about a dozen kiosks are set up along the side of the store. It almost resembles an Apple store with its long, sleek tables and minimalist style.
While there were a handful of employees milling around the location to assist customers unfamiliar with the concept, the kiosk was pretty well-equipped to take me step-by-step through the process. Note: you can’t pay with cash at Eatsa.