Some stumbles for Amazon Go
Any experienced restaurateur knows the unexpected has a way of disrupting a grand opening, no matter how much debugging and dress rehearsing is done beforehand. So only the hardest hearted would have snickered as Amazon worked through some embarrassment in the startup this week of its new Amazon Go food shop/c-store hybrid, even if the venture does pose new competition.
First, there was the irony of having a blocks-long line form outside a venture that boasted it would forever spare patrons the aggravation of a queue. But it was opening day, and few concepts have been hyped as much as Go, whose promise is to reconceive the retail experience. It drew a bigger crowd then was expected. So what?
But that wasn’t the only whoops. A real breakthrough of the format is the elimination of a checkout. Patrons gain entry by flashing a QR code on their phones. They take what they want, then leave, with state-of-the-art tech recording the order and automatically charging the patron’s credit card.
Some louts reportedly figured out how to get inside without revealing their identities, though it’s not clear how. Once inside, there was no electronic trace of them. And at least one customer admitted to shoplifting, albeit unintentional. CNBC tech reporter Deirdre Bosa tweeted that she’d not been charged for one of the items that was in her bag while exiting the Seattle prototype on Day One.
Fake news burns Starbucks
President Trump isn’t the only one who’s irritated by fake news. Though in the instance of Starbucks, the fake news was real. OK, not real in the sense of being true, but genuinely bogus. Hey, you know what we mean.
The coffee chain has been trying to quash a false report that’s spread through social media like a spilled latte. Someone posted on Facebook that an African-American barista at an Atlanta Starbucks was waging a one-woman war on Caucasians, using dirty tricks like spitting in the drink of a white woman, licking a white patron’s sandwich, and blending dog feces into a white child’s hot chocolate.
Never mind that the post initially appeared on the private page of a white supremacy group. Word spread to the mainstream of Facebook, even though Starbucks quickly responded with proof the account was bogus. It noted that it had no one on its payroll who matched the name and description of the alleged perpetrator, a Shannell Rivers.
The reaction, despite any evidence of the assertion being true, was so intense that the store reportedly had to close for a short stretch.
Even the lowest trash talker thinks twice about using mothers as insult fodder. Common decency suggests beer would be similarly off-limits for political debates. The employment of suds to win favor from the young, impressionable and potentially drunk is going too far.
Yet that’s exactly what a brewpub in Austin, Texas, is doing this week. Oasis Texas Brewing Co. is introducing a new beer in its taproom called 2.13, a reference to the $2.13 wage that restaurants in the state are required to pay servers, provided the other $5.12 of the federal minimum comes in the form of tips.
A growing movement there and elsewhere wants to eliminate that tip credit and raise the base wage of waiters and waitresses to what everyone else in the place is entitled to get. Restaurateurs counter that servers are already making far more than the minimum wage, as any kitchen employee would readily attest, and they can’t afford to give servers a nearly 200% wage hike.
It’s likely not lost on Oasis that servers in other establishments could have an allegiance to a beer that calls for increasing their pay, a bias that could factor into customer recommendations.