The Automat Revival is Cool But Where's the Robot Who Takes Off My Top Hat?

Illustration for article titled The Automat Revival is Cool But Where's the Robot Who Takes Off My Top Hat?

Automats are all the rage again. And it’s not hard to see why. Interacting with humans in any capacity that doesn’t involve a high-tech screen is a hellish experience. But at new places like Eatsa in San Francisco, you’ll never again have to talk with a living, breathing human being to get your bowl of piping cold quinoa.

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From the New York Times:

There are no waiters or even an order taker behind a counter. There is no counter. There are unseen people helping to prepare the food, but there are plans to fully automate that process, too, if it can be done less expensively than employing people.

But the New Automat™ fad still has a long ways to go. At least if we’re to believe old visions of the future. Eatsa and its ilk sound remarkably like this cartoon from 1903 showing off the “push-button lunch” of tomorrow...

Illustration for article titled The Automat Revival is Cool But Where's the Robot Who Takes Off My Top Hat?

But do you see the difference between the cartoon and the photo? That’s right, this cartoon from 1903 promised that the automats of the future would have robot arms to take your cane and top hat. Do dining establishments like Eatsa have robot arms to take your cane and top hat and treat you like a civilized human being of the 21st century? No. No, they do not.

Illustration for article titled The Automat Revival is Cool But Where's the Robot Who Takes Off My Top Hat?
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Touchscreen ordering? Psssshhhhh. Who cares? Not me. Especially when I’m stuck removing my own goddamn top hat. Can a touchscreen helpfully remove my jacket and make sure my cane finds a good place to rest that’s out of the way of the other patrons? The fuck it can, Eatsa. The fuck it can.

I bet Eatsa doesn’t even have a robot to remove my monocle in a dramatic manner when I’ve learned something that might lead me to a larger revelation about the identity of the real killer.*

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Illustration for article titled The Automat Revival is Cool But Where's the Robot Who Takes Off My Top Hat?

Who designs a fully automated dining experience and doesn’t include a robot to undress you? Do I look like a fucking chump who’s supposed to take his own top hat off? Do I? It’s the year 2015 fucking AD. For fuck’s sake, it’s nearly 2016 AD. Get with the program, Silicon Valley.

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*It could not be confirmed by press time whether Eatsa has robots that help remove monocles in dramatic moments.

Photos: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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DISCUSSION

geekymitch
geekymitch

I actually consider it somewhat unfortunate that this is the way things are going.

At Newark AIrport there are a bunch of sit-down type restaurants: non descript pub type food for the most part. They all have servers who bring you your food, but you’re expected to order on an ipad that’s attached to the table. I see the removal of interaction in that sense to be a bit disturbing - your wait-person is now nothing more than a food runner (yet at the end of the meal, a 20% tip is what the ipad defaults you to). There are good waiters who deserve more than 20% and shitty waiters who deserve less than 15%...it becomes a lot harder to tell when your waiter is a person who can carry a tray, may or may not have personality or be friendly, or even good at their job.

I for one prefer it the old fashioned way.