Automation is Embraced by Asian Chain, Wow Bao

Automation is Embraced by Asian Chain, Wow Bao

Come Dec. 1, Chicagoans will experience their first automated Wow Bao, an asian fast food chain that focuses on menu items like dumplings, noodle and rice bowls, potstickers, and bao (a meat or veggie stuffed bread roll).

What’s missing?

A waitstaff.

You heard it right! This Wow Bao location will be the first automated eatery for the brand.

According to “Chicago Tribune,” “Customers will order and pay at a kiosk and pick up their food from one of a dozen LED-lit cubbies, which will display their name on an LCD screen when their food is ready. Wow Bao is also introducing a new app in tandem with the Near North restaurant so visitors can order on their phones.”

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SF's eatsa Succeeds With Automated Food Service Model

eatsa Restaurant  | Instagram

eatsa Restaurant | Instagram

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

Eatsa Debuts Automated Dining Experience

Eatsa Restaurant  | Yelp, Jason M.

Eatsa Restaurant | Yelp, Jason M.

San Francisco eatery Eatsa is set to unveil a new healthy, fast food restaurant in downtown that looks to feature a nearly entirely automated experience. Eatsa features a predominantly quinoa focused menu, alongside other customizable healthy dining options, at an incredibly low cost. But unique to the concept is Eatsa's removal of the human element in its restaurant. Patrons order at a tablet kiosk located on a counter in the front of the restaurant. The food later appears in a cubby hole minutes later, no human interaction required.

While chefs are still required to cook the food, owners state they have plans to replace most of the cooking and serving with robots in the near future. Offering a somewhat futuristic, totally unique dining experience,  has Eatsa gone too far in its quest for efficiency? Read More