Steak 'N Shake Is Replacing Table Service With Tableside Kiosks

We're all about the Steak 'n Shake news here at The Takeout. We've been watching the chain's wobbly status in the recent months as it's narrowly avoided a descent into bankruptcy. But after hobbling along for so long, you knew there had to be changes coming. WFTV reports that the chain is moving from table service to a kiosk located at every table. It feels like we're destined to order from tablets and AI in the future.

Biglari Holdings, the parent company to Steak 'n Shake, says that "The combination of labor-intensive, slow production and high-cost table service was a faulty business model. Simply put, the operation of dining rooms with table service was a money loser." That's too bad, because at least for me, part of the charm of Steak 'n Shake was that diner feel, and now, it'd make the transformation from fast-casual to simply fast-food. But Steak 'n Shake's labor costs were 38.5% prior to the pandemic, which was much higher than its competitors, according to Restaurant Business News. During the pandemic when everything shifted over to takeout and delivery, labor costs fell to 29%.

Restaurant Business News also says that the restaurant chain is planning on franchising the 276 corporate-owned locations. The buy-in cost will be as low as $10,000 and the franchisees will, once they're thoroughly vetted, participate in profit sharing from their locations. Who knew that after this year, I'd think, "Remember the good old days at Steak 'n Shake? Those were good times."