Steak ‘n Shake to replace table service with self-serve kiosks

Steak ‘n Shake, which has been known for decades for its steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes served to diners by servers, will transition to a self-service restaurant when its dining rooms reopen after the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Steak ‘n Shake is in an era of radical transformation,” Sardar Biglari, chairman of Biglari Holdings, parent company to the restaurant, wrote in a letter to shareholders. “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.”

Steak ‘n Shake closed 57 restaurants last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, WRTV reported. It had closed 100 restaurants in 2019. While the restaurant’s dining rooms have been closed, it has seen a 14% increase in sales from drive-thru, delivery and takeout orders.

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

The company will shed staff members in the move. Renovations and new equipment will cost $100,000 to $200,000 for each restaurant, Biglari said. The company already had plans to move toward a self-service model, but the pandemic sped up the transition.

“Despite the innovations underway, what is fundamental to the company — steakburgers and milkshakes — remains the same,” Biglari wrote.