Creator, the San Francisco restaurant built around a hamburger-cooking robot, announced last night on Instagram that it was temporarily closing its one physical location tomorrow.
The company wrote:
Our restaurant at 680 Folsom Street in SF is going on a temporary hiatus. The stay at home order, combined with extended work-from-home policies (which we support), have emptied out SoMa – as @Eater_SF captured so poignantly. We haven’t seen a coyote or tumbleweeds on Folsom Street yet but it’s getting there.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Creator launched in the summer of 2018 around the idea that robots could take over the repetitive restaurant task of grilling burgers, freeing up human workers for more creative tasks like customer service.
Up until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 2020 had been a year of growth for Creator. In January the restaurant expanded to being open five days a week, and in March it added dinner service. Even when the pandemic forced its dining room to close, Creator put up a good fight and invented what was basically an air lock for hamburger pickup that aimed to keep workers, delivery drivers and food safe.
We don’t know what this means for Creator, which has raised $18 million in funding. Even though the one location is closed, they have a year and a half’s worth of data and experience that could be useful if they wanted to license out the robot technology to other foodservice operators. As the long-term effects of the pandemic remain unclear, restaurants may be more keen on reducing the number of humans involved in preparing and serving food. Having a robot cook could be one less vector of transmission for a restaurant.
We have reached out to Creator to find out more about any future plans.
On a more personal note, Creator was a highlight for me during my robot food tour of San Francisco last year , and whenever I was in town I made a point of going. Not because of the robot, but because the food was delicious and the experience was always great.