The Touchscreen Generation Gets Its Automat

A new automated restaurant in San Francisco, Eatsa, is being hailed as the future of fast food, yet it sounds a lot like the Automats of old.
Here’s one to file under “everything old is new again.”

A “fully automated restaurant,” called Eatsa, has just opened in San Francisco and is being hailed as “the future” of fast food. With its human-free ordering system and food delivery via glass-fronted compartment, it sure sounds a lot like the automats popular in days of yore. You know, where you put a few coins in the slot, reach in, and grab your sandwich or piece of pie?

So retro, so cool, but sadly the last Horn & Hardart Automat (at 200 42nd Street, at Third Avenue, in New York City) closed in 1991. And Eatsa, if it does owe a debt to its predecessor, dwells definitively in the high-tech here and now.

Diners at the brand-new flagship location near SF’s Embarcadero order their meals on in-store iPads, with nary a human in site, reports. (Well, OK, there’s one lone worker roaming around just to make sure ordering is glitch-free.)

Behind the scenes, five or six people work to feverishly prepare your meal; moments later, it appears in a glass-fronted compartment for you to remove and enjoy.

The menu — devoid of meat but  heavy on quinoa — also sounds fresh and new. And at $6.95 a pop, the meals, which come in “bowls,” are affordable as well. Customers can order from a menu of eight bowls, or customize their own.

Eatsa seems to be a hit so far with lunching office workers, and the team behind it expects to open a location in Los Angeles and another San Francisco location in the coming months. They’re working on an order-speeding app too.

Eat your heart out, Doris Day.

Photo courtesy of iStock
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