SF-based quinoa automat Eatsa — where diners can order and pick up lunch without talking to a single human — has closed both of its New York City locations.
The mini-chain, which prided itself on its tech and healthy grain-based bowls, announced in a blog post on Monday that it expanded restaurants too quickly. The company shuttered five locations in New York, Berkeley, and D.C., and now, only two locations in San Francisco remain. Both NYC outposts were in Midtown.
Eatsa admitted in the post that the fast expansion meant the company wasn’t able to properly figure out its food menu:
Operating in four different markets has made it difficult to quickly test and iterate our food product — something that is critical in any restaurant business, but is even more important when it comes to introducing a new type of nutritious fare.
In lieu of retail spaces, the company plans to use its tech to get other restaurants on board with a cashier- and server-free dining experience. They’re talking to “a number of companies” who could potentially adopt the Eatsa method, where people order from tablets and then pick up their food from behind an automat.
Eatsa is one of several restaurants opting to go more robot, although actual humans put together the food behind the scenes. Most recently, even Shake Shack opened an outpost where people order from computers instead of humans.
The quinoa chain first entered the New York market in December 2016 at 285 Madison Avenue, between 40th and 41st Street. At the time, the CEO of the company said he wanted to open a slew of quinoa automats in New York. This year, the chain opened another location at 666 Third Avenue, at the corner of 43rd Street.
Although the restaurant saw long lines during its debut in San Francisco, the New York locations never quite picked up the same buzz.