Future of fast food? Carl’s Jr. CEO contemplates restaurants where diners ‘never see a person’

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NEW YORK – The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s says he sees automated restaurants as the future of the industry and a solution to rising minimum wages.

“I want to try it,” Andy Puzder told Business Insider.  “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

Eatsa is a fully-automated lunch spot that provides healthy meals at the touch of a button.  The first location opened in San Francisco’s Financial District, and the company has since expanded to Los Angeles as well.  The menu consists of bowls for $6.95 that include Japanese, Mexican, Mediterranean and other international themes.

Puzder has spoken publicly against states raising the minimum wage, saying that it cuts down on companies’ ability to compete.  He said both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are making a big mistake pushing for the mandatory raises, adding,  “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”

Puzder says that while he likes the idea of automation, to employ it at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants would take an extensive amount of engineering to replicate what is currently a complex process.

While customers will not be alone in Carl’s Jr. restaurants anytime in the near future, Puzder think full automation is what Millennials will eventually prefer.  “Millennials like not seeing people . . . I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”

So far, Puzder’s comments have not been well received by many on social media, who took to Twitter to blast the CEO’s “Jetson’s”-like vision of the future:

Pudzer responded to the barrage of angry tweets, saying:

The idea of having a fully-automated place to grab a quick bite is hardly a new one, however – inspired by Berlin’s 19th century coin-operated cafeterias, Automats reached New York City in 1912.  For a nickel, a busy commuter could lift a hinged window and pull out a meal, neatly wrapped in wax paper.  Many of the Automats also had a steam table from which diners could help themselves to a variety of hot foods.

Automats ended up fading into history in the 1970s, ironically in part because of the popularity of fast food restaurants, according to historians.  Many Automats ended up being replaced by Burger Kings and Arby’s in New York City.

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