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Emerging Brands

High-tech Eatsa closes majority of its units

Chain hopes to sell tech platform to other concepts

Eatsa, the automat-style chain heralded as a possible solution to rising labor costs, has shuttered all but two of its locations, citing plans to retool its menu and sell its technological platform to other concepts.

Two-year-old Eatsa shuttered a total of five units, in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Berkeley, Calif. Two San Francisco stores remain.

“The challenge was more about getting the food product right,” said Leyl Black, an Eatsa spokeswoman. “It was hard for Eatsa to try out new approaches across four markets. … With just two locations, they’ll be able to do more experimentation and iterate more quickly.”

Black would not comment on how many employees were laid off following the closures.

Eatsa, calling itself “better, faster food,” disrupted the quick-service space by offering a variety of vegetable-heavy quinoa bowls available through mobile ordering or tablet-based kiosks on-site. Made-to-order bowls appear through a numbered cubby, with a “concierge” on the scene to answer any questions.

Earlier this year, a group of disability-rights advocates sued the chain for making the business inaccessible to blind consumers. The case was settled in September, with Eatsa agreeing to incorporate accessible design features into its ordering platform.

Eatsa reps are currently in talks with “a number of other restaurants to use the technology to improve their own customer experience and operations,” Black said. “We should have more to share about the company’s direction in the coming weeks.”

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