Less Human Contact

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So we were in the mood for burgers on July 4th but the place we wanted to go was closed. It happens. There was another place nearby so we went with our second choice. The second choice is a chain that started in the 1930’s. Sort of a drive in/burger joint vibe but it was a sit down place with actual plates and silverware so one step up from a true fast food place.

It certainly isn’t gourmet but it wasn’t trying for that and if you were in the mood for a certain type of food, they provided it. As tastes change, the place was going through some troubles and they did a revamp of the menu – reducing it down to basically burgers and fries. They were in trouble before the pandemic and the pandemic knocked them for another loop. The location we went to was closed for quite some time and had just recently reopened.

Well, the new model is kiosks at the front. (We haven’t been inside one of these restaurants since before the pandemic so I don’t know if this is unique to this location or is something that will end up in others) You input your order, pay the check and then go sit down until they call your number. No servers. And the plates and utensils are replaced with plastic. The milkshakes still came in glass but clearly far less to go into a dishwasher. Things done to slash costs which I guess a business has to do to stay alive.

Now, having dined out a number of times, it is clear that a server having a bad day or hating their life/job choices can make for an unpleasant experience. But I’m not so sure that removing them from the equation is a net plus. It does fit with where things are going when you can pick up your phone, open an app and order pretty much whatever your want. Then it gets delivered to you by an anonymous person and left at your front door so you never have to interact with an actual human.

I did like the convenience of the kiosk but it changes the experience and the feel of the place. I feel like we as a society we aren’t the greatest at dealing with each other. So eliminating opportunities in interact with another person seems like it isn’t going to help that. But I kind of expect that we’ll see more like this down the road. Could a place move to all orders done via kiosk or app eliminating the need to tell someone what you want? I’m sure you could.

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