Gamifying the latest food trend

Apr 20, 2016

A new restaurant is repositioning bourgeois health food quinoa as not only fast food, but fun food

Gluten-free and high in fibre may not sound like an ingredient for a good time, but fast-casual quinoa restaurant Eatsa is gamifying the lunchtime food trade.

Situated in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Eatsa invites customers to browse the menu on digital screens before ordering and paying by credit card using iPads. The iPad emails customers their receipt and saves their preferences to a profile attached to their credit card for even quicker ordering on return visits.

Quinoa restaurant dishWhen the food is ready, a screen informs the customer to collect it from a designated hatch, which has their name displayed on it. To open, the hatch must be tapped two times, bringing an element of gamification and play to lunch. Throughout the whole process no waiters, cashiers or busboys are seen anywhere. For US customers, Eatsa is a 21st century version of an automat.

“It’s essentially lunch on demand,” said Scott Drummond, co-founder. “Eatsa’s Order Anywhere concept translates to zero wait time for customers. No more waiting in line. No more $12 lunch salads. Just delicious food that is nutritious, affordable, and quick.”

A pot of quinoa sits at the San Franciscan restaurant EatsaBehind the scenes in the kitchen, seven staff create the bowls of protein-rich grain with extras such as chimichurri sauce and parsnip strips. The process in the kitchen is also automated. “Every person that has a role has an iPad that manages their job,” co-founder Tim Young said to Time magazine. It is this use of technology, he said, that allows staff to keep up with the fast-rate of orders. Not that customers will ever see the staff: the hatches turn black to avoid them being seen when serving the food. “In most restaurants you don’t see the kitchen,” Young said. “The core functions can be solved by the customers themselves.”

“By developing new technology to automate every aspect of the food experience, we are able to deliver a product with the best qualities of premium fast-casual at a price point that is accessible to everyone,” said Tim Young.

Customers managing their orders at Eatsa

As further Eatsa restaurants open in the US later this year – the Los Angeles branch opened in January 2016 – there are also expectations for the implementation of an app. Ripe for introducing points and other gaming elements into the ordering process, Eatsa remains very much a single-player experience at present. For those looking to dine with friends, this may be the one thing lacking on the menu.

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