Steak ‘n Shake won’t have servers, will use self-service kiosks when dining rooms reopen


The next time you sit down to eat in a Steak ‘n Shake, it may not be like what you remember from before the pandemic.

The burgers-and-milkshakes restaurant chain is planning a transformation to a quick-service restaurant model that will see it eliminate sit-down service in favor of self-service kiosks, according to its parent company, Biglari Holdings.

Sardar Biglari, CEO and chairman of Biglari Holdings, wrote in a letter to investors that the chain “is in an era of radical transformation.”

The next time you sit down to eat in a Steak ‘n Shake, it may not be like what you remember from before the pandemic. (iStock)

The next time you sit down to eat in a Steak ‘n Shake, it may not be like what you remember from before the pandemic. (iStock)

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“What will be most evident to our returning patrons is that instead of ordering at the table, or even at a counter with an attendant, our guests will now initiate their transaction at a kiosk,” he wrote.

In the past, preparing food has taken too long and paying wait staff for table service was too expensive, according to Biglari’s letter.

“Simply put, the operation of dining rooms with table service was a money loser,” he wrote.

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Switching to the new model will come with some expenses. Steak ‘n Shake has more than 550 locations, and it will cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to remodel and add new point-of-sale and self-service equipment to each restaurant, according to Biglari.

The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for some in the restaurant industry. Early in the pandemic, Steak ‘n Shake was forced to close 57 of its restaurants because of “an adverse effect” caused by COVID-19, Fox News previously reported.

Steak 'n Shake is planning a transformation to a quick-service restaurant model that will see it eliminate sit-down service in favor of self-service kiosks. (iStock)

Steak ‘n Shake is planning a transformation to a quick-service restaurant model that will see it eliminate sit-down service in favor of self-service kiosks. (iStock)

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Dining rooms at Steak ‘n Shake locations have remained shuttered even as the restaurants have reopened for drive-through, delivery and takeout orders. Biglari said that the chain saw a 14.3% increase in those off-premise sales in 2020.

Biglari had already been planning a transition to self-service even before the pandemic. The health crisis simply sped up those plans. And reopening dining rooms with self-service in place will “amplify profits,” he told investors.

“The modernization centers on achieving simplicity and speed in the way Steak ‘n Shake’s products are made and the way they are delivered to guests — without a diminution of quality,” Biglari wrote.



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