It’s only a matter of time before fast-food workers are a thing of the past, unless that’s what we eventually start calling robots. Shake Shack, New York’s celebrated burger joint, is launching another outpost, but this one will be quite a bit different: it’ll be run by machines.
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Instead of employees taking your order, you’ll use a kiosk. Instead of paying with cash you’ll pay via the restaurant’s app. And instead of hearing the magical words of “your order’s ready,” diners will be texted when their food is up. In fact, the only real-life humans will act as “hospitality champs,” being on-hand in case of any technical difficulties. And they’ll be paid $15 an hour, a minimum wage New York is moving towards.
The new Astor Place branch in the East Village, slated to open later this month, will be a one big testing facility to see if the chain can successfully get away with replacing people where machines can likely do a more efficient job.
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CEO Randy Garutti tells the New York Post, “We’re excited to lead with kiosk-only ordering, putting control of the Shake Shack experience in our guests’ hands, and an optimized kitchen with increased capacity for mobile orders and eventual delivery integration to support ongoing digital innovation,”
Replacing workers with machines is not new. In March, Wendy’s added kiosks to some of their locations, the Chief Information Officer telling investors that customers seem to prefer not dealing with people: “You will see customers deliberately going to those kiosks directly, bypassing lines. Some customers clearly prefer to use the kiosks.”
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Andy Puzder, CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has a similar story. He said he’s been inside restaurants where his company has installed these ordering kiosks “and I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”
Plus, we all know nobody goes to Shake Shack for the hospitality. They go there for the Instagram opps.