With a background in entrepreneurship, technology, and brand design, Tim Young and Scott Drummond set out to bring together the best elements of the quick service and fast casual segments into one concept that symbolizes the essence of the healthy and sustainable zeitgeist. The new project, dubbed Eatsa, is a San Francisco-based automated café with no servers, no wait time, and no meat that is attempting to reinvent fast food through technology.
Eatsa’s bowl-based menu and tech-driven design are meant to create an alternative on-the-go option that is easy on the stomach and easy on the planet. The decision to build each bowl off of a quinoa base—which requires just one-thirtieth the amount of energy needed for most animal protein production—aligns with the fledgling company’s commitment to efficiency in all areas, while still emphasizing flavor and health.
“The fundamental core of what we’re trying to do is bring that speed and price point and accessibility within fast food to fast-casual quality and beyond, while minimizing our footprint,” says Young, the concept’s co-founder and CEO.
At a price of $6.95 per bowl, customers can get fully customizable versions of Eatsa’s eight signature entrees, which touch on a variety of cuisines—from the concept’s No Worry Curry and Bento bowls to its Smokehouse Salad and Big Chop bowls. Young says Eatsa is able to provide such value to its customers by evolving its operations both front- and back-of-house. For instance, instead of staffing cashiers, the concept has one attendant (or two at peak hours) available in the front to give one-on-one help to customers should they need assistance inputting orders themselves. The Eatsa team worked to take the complexity out of the kitchen as well, with each employee responsible for a singular task, paired with a system that tells them exactly what goes into each bowl and in what order, increasing the speed of service.
While all of this may sound like an impersonal, artificial eating experience, Young says that Eatsa’s focus lies in creating the ideal customer experience and delivery method for real, nutritious food. “What we’re able to do is deliver a greater experience to the customer while also reducing the overhead that we need to actually deliver that experience,” he says.
With a focus on bringing its rich set of ingredients and simplistic operations to a large clientele, the brand is already focusing on how to scale up, and how to scale up quickly.
“What we’re trying to do is get better food to more people and do that on a broader scale,” he says. “From the very beginning, that’s been an emphasis for us.”
With the first location to open this month in San Francisco and two other California locations coming down the pipeline this year, Eatsa is on track to meet its ambitious growth goals and change the perception of semi-automation and even faster food.
By Emily Byrd