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Shake Shack is abandoning its plan to go cashless after customer backlash (SHAK)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

by WithdrawCashWednesday

  • Shake Shack is walking back its plan to operate fully cashless restaurants after customer complaints
  • "Our guests do often want to pay with cash," the company's chief executive officer said on a call with analysts

When Shake Shack’s newest New York City burger outlet opened in October, it followed in the footsteps of many other hip restaurant chains in going completely cashless.

But after receiving complaints from furious customers who wanted to pay with their hard-earned legal tender, the burger chain is reversing course and adding cashiers to cashless locations going forward, its chief executive officer told analysts on a conference call Thursday.

"Some of the things we've clearly seen is that our guests do often want to pay with cash,” CEO Randy Garutti said in response to an analyst’s question. "In the first rollout at Astor Place, we did not accept cash at all, and there are people who have told us very clearly 'we want to pay with cash.'"

So in this next phase, we're going to go ahead and have cashiers as well as kiosks," he continued.

The company also said in its breakout earnings report that it will add “about four or five” Shake Shacks with the new kiosks by the end of the second quarter.

Dozens of the Google and Yelp reviews for the Astor Place location — which is in the shadow of Facebook’s New York office and popular with tourists — back up Garutti’s claims of unhappy diners.

"Half the customers don’t know how to use [the kiosk] to order," one review reads. Meanwhile, others complain that the system that notifies customers when their burgers are ready doesn’t support non-US formatted phone numbers.

Still, digital ordering — both in restaurants and on its mobile app — is a huge focus for Shake Shack, the company reiterated in its earnings release on Thursday.

"We are committed to digital innovation to better connect with our guests, delivering ongoing menu innovation, and investing in our people and infrastructure to execute on the significant long-term opportunity ahead," it said in a press release.


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