By Barbara L. Vergetis Lundin, Assistant Editor
So, when is a restaurant no longer a restaurant, at some point becoming nothing more than a vending machine with tables and chairs?
So far, guests seem unphased with the impersonal technology, probably due to the fact that at most establishments, its use, thus far, has been at minimal scale.
eatsa, a fully automated restaurant aimed at San Francisco’s high-tech demographic whose tagline happens to be “Better, Faster Food,” is unlikely to become the norm in the fast-casual segment, Tommy Woycik, founder and president of Nextep Systems, speculates.
But in its first eight months or so, the restaurant has done quite well. One of eatsa’s founders, Tim Young, attributes its success, in part, to a simple and interactive ordering experience; a virtual cashier that remembers every customer, allowing for highly personalized interaction and tailored suggestions; and zero wait time.
An automated food pickup system features a collection of glass door "cubbies." When a customer's meal is ready, the cubby door transforms to display personalized graphics and presents the food at the touch of a button, ensuring that every customer receives their food when and how they want it.
Scott Drummond, eatsa’s other founder, actually credits the technology for a lower price point for customers, allowing the restaurant to offer $12 dishes for less than $7.
“[eatsa’s] success does demonstrate that guests may not value a traditional experience as much as some restaurants might believe,” Woycik contends. Read More