When eatsa announced in October they were closing five restaurants, most everyone paid attention to the fact they were, well, closing five restaurants.
We noted the news as well, but I thought the big takeaway was the company’s transition to a new model in which eatsa would license its tech to others.
In a sense, the company was telling the world they’re a restaurant technology company, not a restaurant operator. While that’s a big shift, in my mind it’s the right one. As much as I like the eatsa experience, building your own footprint of restaurant locations is hugely capital intensive, capital that could be better put to use making its technology better.
And when the company wrote they were already in discussions with other restaurants and would have some news in coming weeks, they meant it. That’s because on November 17th the company announced their first partner in Wow Bao, a hum bao fast casual restaurant chain that opened its first eatsa-enabled restaurant in Chicago on December 1st.
And this is just the first. According to CNET, the restaurant plans to double its total number of restaurants in 2018 from the current seven, all of them eatsa-powered.
Wow Bao CEO Geoff Alexander had this to say in the announcement:
“When I first heard about eatsa opening in San Francisco, I jumped on a plane to come see it,” said Alexander. “The eatsa platform creates a seamless customer service experience that is both entertaining and efficient. I knew right away that eatsa would be the perfect technology to incorporate into our future locations. We couldn’t be more excited to be the first restaurant partner for eatsa.”
You can see my video of ordering an eatsa at one of the (now closed) New York locations below.
In their post, eatsa said their technology takes, on average, 90 seconds to get the food out to consumers. This translates to an impressive 500 customers in an hour. In a restaurant market that is struggling as millennials look for other options outside chain restaurants, greater speed and a streamline experience might sound pretty good to the Chipotles of the world.