Fast food re-imagined? Robots aim to please at Eatsa

Last October, I realized that I may be hitting the age where I have to be more thoughtful about my eating habits. My pants were getting tighter by the day and the scale showed me a number that was the highest I had ever seen. That was my wake up call. I certainly didn't want to have to buy new pants that actually fit correctly. Immediately I started to eat less carbs and more veggies. Then in January, my friend Amy Crowson of Lovebugfitness was having a clean eating challenge. It was a great way to take my clean eating to another level and have the support of other people on the same journey - check our her 10 day challenge (use the coupon code ONLY10 and pay just $10) if you are looking to kick off the healthy lifestyle that you deserve.

While it is easy to eat well at home, I have always found it to be more difficult when eating out. Even in NYC where there are so many restaurants, if you want a healthy option, then you are often limited to uninspired salads from a deli and don't make the mistake of putting salad dressing on a McDonald's salad which makes it worse than a double Big Mac. No joke.

This led me to the discovery of Eatsa. When you walk by, you are immediately wondering what the place actually is. There are no cashiers and no visible employees. It is something I would expect from a modern Japanese quick serve even though I have never been to Japan. I was happy to discover that it is a vegetarian fast casual eatery.

No human interaction

In town for meetings, I recently had the opportunity to stop in at Eatsa for lunch. First you walk up to tablets sitting in kiosks along the wall. Cash is not accepted here as you have to swipe your plastic to get the process started. With that swipe, Eatsa already knows you name and you are ready to choose your healthy food. You can customize your quinoa bowl with prices starting at $6.95 which is incredibly inexpensive for any food in NYC or in the suburbs for that matter. Once you order, you wait for your name to appear digitally at the top of a wall of illuminated cubby holes. When your name appears, you tap on the respective window and your food/drink are waiting. There is limited seating in the restaurant with about 3 chairs to sit at. If you want to dine in, you can have a standing lunch using the counter space than runs alongside the large windows.

The best part is the food is good!

Most of the articles that you read focus on the cool ordering process and the fact that there is no human interaction. Sure there are people making your food behind the walls, but the tech enabled experience is what all the buzz is about. While that is certainly cool, any restaurant concept without good food won't survive for long, but I'm happy to report that the food was actually really good. I ordered a falafel hummus bowl and I have since copied that recipe multiple times at home because it was so good. Don't get mad at me Eatsa, I live in NJ so I can't partake in the real thing very often.

eatsa food.jpg

To the future

Eatsa was started in 2015 in San Francisco and now has 2 locations in SF, 2 in NYC, 2 in DC and 1 in Berkeley. One of Eatsa's founders Dave Friedberg says that while the robotic system may sound contrived and gimmicky, it is a means to support a bigger mission: selling nutritious and sustainable food at a reasonable price.

According to a Fortune article, automatic ordering cuts down on Eatsa's labor and real estate costs and helps push through some 600-700 orders an hour. Friedberg says that formula is the reason he can charge about 30-40% less than a meal than fast-casual rival Chipotle. This is clearly the trend in fast food as McDonalds and Panera have already been moving toward automation as well.

Eatsa doesn't lead its messaging with labels like organic or vegetarian because it doesn't want to alienate any carnivores and actually hopes to kind of trick them into giving it a try. Friedberg says that 80% of customers who were unfamiliar with Eatsa's products didn't realize they were vegetarian after they ate them. While I knew what to expect going into my Eatsa experience, I can attest to the fact that the food was tasty and was filling as well.

I'm hoping that this healthy quick serve concept thrives and spreads like a virus across America. If you are near an Eatsa, I highly recommend giving it a try. Let me know what you think.

Photos: Christopher Wang


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author: Chris Wang

Chris Wang


Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Runnymede Capital Management, Inc.-"Runnymede"), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Runnymede.  Please remember that if you are a Runnymede client, it remains your responsibility to advise Runnymede, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Runnymede is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Runnymede's current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request. Please Note: Runnymede does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Runnymede's web site or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

Search Website

Annuity Review Database

Follow Our Podcast

Google Podcasts
Apple Podcasts

Recent Posts