Eatsa, the automat-style eatery which saw rapid expansion after landing in San Francisco in 2015, has abruptly closed its shops in Berkeley, New York, and Washington, D.C. The reason for the closure is due to a "scaling back" of operations, writes Eater SF.
In a statement written on their blog, Eatsa explained the reason behind the closures, writing, "... in our eagerness to get the eatsa experience in front of as many people as possible, we now realize that we expanded our retail footprint too quickly. In particular, operating in four different markets has made it difficult to quickly test and iterate our food product — something that is critical in any restaurant business, but is even more important when it comes to introducing a new type of nutritious fare." To that end, they write that they're still going to keep their two locations in San Francisco open, in the hopes that they "can experiment and innovate faster."
It boils down to this: Eatsa grew way too fast, and they're refocusing their efforts by concentrating on their original market where they were, at least initially, wildly popular.
You'll remember that Eatsa made headlines when they were served a lawsuit by the Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit. Their lawsuit alleged that Eatsa's central feature — exclusively in-app ordering and automat-style food pickup — discriminated against blind people, who may be unable to navigate the app menus or pick up food because of their lack of audio or tactile feedback cues. Then, Eatsa responded by saying that their Hosts — the single human point of contact at each location — were there to assist customers who needed help, but the DRA argued that such help wasn't enough, and that the seeing-impaired should be able to serve themselves if they wish. We've also previously mentioned that Eatsa closed briefly in March following that lawsuit, though they say that was an unrelated matter. They had closed to revamp their menu, expanding from their initially quinoa-only dishes to offer new dishes like noodles.