When I first heard about eatsa, I was scrolling through Instagram food accounts (naturally) and came across a video of the chain's newly opened location in New York. I was so surprised by what I saw: no employees. Not one. No one to mess up your order, unless you mess it up yourself (but that's on you), no one to hand your credit card to charge you for that overpriced salad, and no one to wish you a good day even though it's clearly not.
eatsa first opened in San Francisco in 2015 and has since expanded to six locations in California, Washington D.C., and as of two months ago, New York. What makes eatsa so different from all of the other fast food restaurants out there is that it mainly serves quinoa, and it's an automat-style restaurant. Every aspect of the restaurant, from ordering to receiving the food, relies on technology. I knew immediately that I had to experience this futuristic restaurant for myself.
The thing about going to a fast food restaurant on a weekday during lunch in Midtown, Manhattan is that you end up with all of the 9-5 employees on their lunch break. While businessmen hustle through in their button up shirts and ties, I was attempting to squeeze past people without hitting them with my huge backpack.
Okay, when I said there were no employees—that's not really true. There are two employees. One standing near the line of iPad kiosks where the customers order, and one standing beside the cubbies that the food comes out in.
They were only there to make sure that all the machines were working and to help customers who didn't know what to do. Other than that, they barely interacted with the customers, which I was very okay with.
When ordering my food, all I did was pick out the quinoa bowl I wanted, then swipe my credit card. One bowl only came out to around $7, which is another plus. Food in Manhattan is known to be pretty expensive, even if it's just lunch. But this $7 quinoa is probably why this restaurant is extremely crowded.
After ordering, I stood in a line in front of a wall of cubbies with screens on each one. When I got to the front of the line (which didn't take long at all) I waited for my name to pop up on one of the screens and walked over to it. I double tapped the screen, and it opened to reveal my quinoa bowl inside the cubby.
The whole process took less than 10 minutes, which really emphasizes the "fast" in fast food. The quinoa itself was a large portion, which was worth the $7. I got the Toscana Bowl, but I will definitely be coming back to try the other combinations, especially the breakfast bowls!
If this is the future of all fast food restaurants, then I am certainly loving what the future holds.