Andy Puzder, CEO of the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardees, has seen the future of fast food – and there aren't very many people in it. At least on the restaurant's side of the counter.
In an interview with Business Insider, Puzder says he's intrigued by the concept of a restaurant where patrons enter their orders on kiosks, pay with plastic, and are served by a conveyor belt. Such a restaurant, he maintains, would not just be more efficient, but a lot less expensive to operate.
"With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," he told the publication. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants."
Not a new idea
Puzder has visited this idea before. In 2014, after President Obama called for a large increase in the minimum wage, Puzder penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, warning such a move would speed up the automation process where most minimum wage workers are employed.
Puzder concedes that it would be very difficult to replace people with machines at Carl's Jr., Hardees, and many other existing franchises. That's because the operations are complex and were designeed around humans.
Rather, he sees the automated restaurant concept as part of a new restaurant's overall design. In the Business Insider interview, he points to something like Eatsa, and envisions a menu heavy with all-natural products.
Pedictably, Puzder's comments have created something of a storm on social media. On Twitter, one poster named Edward wrote, “Andy, please automatic (sic) YOUR JOB! You make 721 times more than your minimum wage worker. Your FRONT Line employees matter.
Puzder took to Twitter to answer his critics, telling them to read the article and not just the headline.
McDonald's has already stuck a toe into the world of automation, installing ordering kiosks at some of its New York City restaurants. This video shows how it works.