Known for customer service, it comes as a surprise that Shake Shack is rolling out automated ordering kiosks at its new Astor Place location (the 140th worldwide) in New York City. Bloomberg reports that instead of interacting with employees, diners will place their orders at a kiosk, called in-Shack apps.
"We need to keep developing the tools to provide hospitality in the modern era if our fans are going to stay loyal," CEO Randy Garutti told Bloomberg.
While the high-end burger chain is known for amazing customer service and its higher-than-average pay, the kiosk announcement came alongside the introduction of founder Danny Meyer's new foundation, which will focus on investing in companies that put a priority on their employees and communities. Meyer said that the implementation of the kiosks and his foundation are unrelated.
Bloomberg adds that the automated ordering will only be at the Astor Place location and there are no plans to roll it out to the chain's other spots. The new system will also include a more tech-centric kitchen to make orders come out even faster and put more focus on Shake Shack's delivery service. Additionally, the kiosks won't accept cash. There will still be a human employee — known as a "hospitality champ" — to greet guests and assist them with ordering if the new system proves to be less than intuitive.
"People are making the assumption that this is not employee focused," Meyer said. "It's true that the ordering process is automated, which we've already done with our Shake Shack app. But we need to figure out how to pay our people with current and future economic demands."
Even with the automation, the Astor Place location will have 60 employees, which is on par with other locations. When he was criticized for taking the human quotient out of Shake Shack, Meyer noted that when he heads to the airport or bank, he doesn't get face-to-face with anyone. If a customer isn't into the new system, they have plenty of other locations to visit.
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