A few weeks back, I wrote about a significant retrenching of the Eatsa business, which involved the closing of its New York restaurants and retrenching back to its San Francisco units. At the same time, the company announced that technology would begin to appear as an end-to-end platform in other restaurants soon.
In many of these announcements, the second part is really nothing more than a graceful way to mask some painful news. Not so in Eatsa’s case.
Opening on Dec. 1, Wow Bao, a fast-casual restaurant concept in Chicago specializing in buns, dumplings, and rice and noodle bowls, is using the Eatsa platform as the foundation for a new, automated restaurant experience. Wow Bao plans to roll out additional Eatsa-enabled locations in 2018.
In a discussion with Tim Young, CEO of Eatsa, he described this evolution of the Eatsa brand from a restaurant concept to an end-to-end technology platform. Young suggests that the biggest challenge is “where to focus growth and apply effort.” Running a day-to-day restaurant operation in four geographically remote markets challenged the resources of a startup and led to the key question: Is Eatsa a restaurant chain or great technology?
From the onset of the opening, the company has been deluged with requests to potentially license the technology and finally decided to take those requests seriously. The conversation with Wow Bao went from a first sit-down to a restaurant opening in an incredible 90 days!