Panera Bread is replacing cashiers with kiosks - and it feels totally dystopian
Jul 26, 2021, 12:48 IST
Panera plans to bring Panera 2.0 to all its locations nationwide — 400 locations, or roughly 50% of the chain, will be updated by the end of 2015. The rest will be rolled out in 2016. This Panera at 23rd and Park Avenue has already been brought up to speed.
Upon walking in, you're greeted with ... a lot of empty space. It feels a little dystopic in here. Gone are the lines and chaos, replaced by ...
... these. There are 12 ordering kiosks in this particular store, with plenty of room around them. An inordinate amount of room, in fact. Has this Panera become a panopticon?
For those who are still fearful of robot overlords, don't fret: Panera hasn't completely phased out the old fashioned cash register just yet. There's one regular point of sale manned by a human cashier — with barely any line.
Okay, let's order. The touch screen makes it easy, although scrolling is a little weird at times.
Many Paneras have had these kiosks for some time now, supplementing the normal cashiers; now, however, the cashier lines will be slowly phased out and more kiosks brought in.
The system allows for a large amount of customization and control, as well as clear and easy access to nutritional information. Plus, as a MyPanera rewards member you can save your modifications and order history to use again, according to Panera.
A pretty painless process — now, I wait.
As the system allows more staff in the kitchen, the wait isn't any longer — if anything, it's slightly shorter. You simply wait and watch as your name goes from "Preparing" to "Order Ready!". You can also order on the Panera phone app and pick it up here too, skipping the kiosks.
Within four minutes, I have my snack: a fruit cup, a drink, and some of Panera's fantastic mac n' cheese.
And of course, the food is still delicious — nothing has changed here. Steaming hot! So while human contact may have decreased at Panera, the eating experience is ultimately the same.