Shake Shack is going cashless with kiosks in New York City later this month.
New York, according to company CEO Randy Garutti, is what the retailer considers “the playground” — Shake Shack’s go-to choice for testing out new innovations for consumers.
This cashless kiosk coming soon to Astor Place will not have a cashier counter. Instead, guests will use digital kiosks to order their food — or utilize their smartphones, if they have the mobile Shake Shack app. The cashless kiosks will be manned by “hospitality champs” — employees whose focus is making sure customers’ time in the restaurant is as pleasant and problem-free as possible.
Orders will go directly to the kitchen, which has also had a reset to “eliminate friction time,” Randy Garutti told CNBC.
The CEO noted that eliminating friction is the animating concept behind the move. Customers, he noted, still use cash to pay quite often at Shake Shack locations, but the company wants to see what happens when the option is taken away. The hope is that the experience is improved for all diners.
In addition, instead of the traditional Shake Shack buzzer, customers will get a text message when their food is done, so they can leave the restaurant while they wait and still be sure to get their meal hot and fresh when it’s available.
The dining room and waiting area will be largely unchanged from a traditional Shake Shack restaurant, he said.
“It’s really a guest-centric strategy,” Garutti told CNBC. “We get the best people and the best hospitality. It’s not just about the hamburgers.”
In order to hire the best staff, Garutti said the company will be paying workers at this location a minimum of $15 an hour. That transition to a higher pay scale, he said, will likely spread to other locations in New York and in California and D.C., in which there are currently many Shake Shacks. The higher pay in Astor Place will also allow the firm to beta test out any kinks in the salary increase plan.
Garutti told CNBC he expects this Shake Shack location will also take on improving delivery speed and delivery packaging. He noted that the retailer plans to do “a lot of listening” at its Astor Place location to get a better sense of what customers like and what they want.