Atlanta, GA-headquarterd Moe’s Southwest Grill is best known for its fast-casual take on Mexican food. It could also soon be known for the tech it uses to get said Mexican food to customers in a more contactless format. Today, the chain announced that its new kiosk-only location is open for business in Pittsburgh, PA.
This is the first of what will be multiple kiosk-only locations for Moe’s. The chain had originally planned to launch its Pittsburg location as well as one in Charlottesville, VA in the first quarter of 2020. It’s unclear if the pandemic was the reason for the delay.
The kiosk-only Moe’s is exactly as it sounds. The restaurant, owned and operated by Moe’s multi-unit franchisee, Mike Geiger, features multiple kiosks from which customers can directly order and pay for food, skipping the need for human-to-human interaction.
One POS terminal and cashier will be available for customers that prefer ordering and paying for their meals via another human being.
The role kiosks play in the future of ordering and paying for restaurant food is still being determined. These standalone machines that require you to touch a screen could be seen by more wary customers as germ repositories. However, keying items in on a screen still requires less human-to-human interaction than talking to a cashier, and there’s also indications that facial recognition and gesture tech could soon become part of kiosk design. Others, like this restaurant in Sweden, are placing kiosks behind glass walls and in doing so making them accessible to outside foot traffic.
For now, the Moe’s in Pittsburgh will feature regular old kiosks that accept Apple Pay, university cards (for college students in the surrounding area), and cash. Cash, in particular, is important, since one of the issues with digital payments at restaurants is that they exclude millions of unbanked and underbanked individuals in the U.S. While cashless payments are the norm in some countries (see: Sweden), it’s unlikely restaurants across the U.S. will go full-on cashless anytime soon. Self-order kiosks and other contactless restaurant tech coming out of the pandemic will need to account for that fact.