San Francisco Burger Joint Has A Robot Chef

Creator claims it is the first restaurant to automate burger building from start to finish.

By Ethan L. Johns
June 22, 2018

Image: Creator

Once upon a time, only the grill chef knew the secret to a perfect restaurant hamburger. Now, as with everything else, that sacred piece of human heritage has fallen into the hands of the machines. Do they do it justice?

Creator, a San Francisco startup, is launching a new restaurant that has replaced the kitchen with a pneumatic-tubed machine—one that is capable of cooking and composing a cheeseburger without any help from a human.

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After customers place their order, the burger bot grinds its raw beef—a blend of hormone-free brisket and chuck—to order. It slices vegetables, grates cheese and dispenses sauces and spices for each individual burger.

The startup says that full automation allows it to “reduce the cost of farm-to-table dining” by purchasing higher-quality ingredients—inherently by cutting labor costs, though the chief operating officer and co-founder, Steve Frehn, told TechCrunch that restaurant employees are paid $16 per hour.

Burgers at Creator—with recipes developed by the startup and by chefs Nick Balla of Bar Tartine and Tu David Phu of Top Chef—cost $6 each.

Paradoxically, Creator believes that its robot chef will “support an intimate, social, human-interaction-rich service experience.” Customers order from a cashier instead of an automated kiosk, and the lack of a kitchen means more real estate for diners to seat themselves and, if all goes according to plan, co-mingle.

The startup’s first location is due for its public opening June 27th. If you want to try a burger, you’ll have to reserve in advance between the lunchtime hours of 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., with reservations open through July. At the time of publication, all available tickets were sold out. A waitlist is available for August for those excited enough.

Will they find it to be as delicious as a burger that was lovingly (or angrily) smashed onto a griddle by a human being? Hey, at least a robot chef won’t ever spit in your burger.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns