Quinoa lovers and technology enthusiasts in Berkeley will now have to travel to San Francisco to dine at eatsa, after the closure of the automated restaurant’s Telegraph Avenue location Monday.
The restaurant chain decided to close its Berkeley location at 2334 Telegraph Ave., as well as four other locations in Washington, D.C., and New York, in order to “focus on testing and iterating on the food product and the retail brand in just one market,” said Leyl Black, an eatsa communications consultant, in an email. Only two eatsa locations remain open, both in San Francisco.
eatsa’s Berkeley location, which opened in August 2016, was only open for a little more than a year. Although a sign on the front door of the restaurant says that it is “temporarily closed,” Black said the Berkeley location is no longer in operation.
According to a statement posted on eatsa’s blog Monday, a primary reason for the closure of five eatsa locations was to shift the company’s focus toward the expansion of the eatsa retail concept — which relies on technology rather than employees to deliver food — to other companies. In the statement, eatsa said it has already begun to speak with companies about this type of expansion.
“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,” eatsa said in the statement. “We believe that partnering with established brands will allow us to get the eatsa experience people love into more restaurants, faster.”
UC Berkeley freshman Tina Kim said she enjoyed eatsa’s “modern and futuristic” dining experience when she ate at the Berkeley location, though she only ate there once before its closure. Kim expressed disappointment about the store’s closure, saying she had been considering returning to the store in the future.
While some students like Kim felt that their eatsa dining experience has been cut short, others expressed a more negative opinion about eatsa and said they had not planned to return to the restaurant even if it had remained open. UC Berkeley freshman Noah Gallegos, who ate at eatsa once, said he was bothered by the lack of interaction with employees and was not too upset about the closure.
“I thought the setup was weird because there were no people,” Gallegos said. “I know they’re behind the door, but it was locked.”
Gloria Liang, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016, said in an email that she ate at eatsa’s Berkeley location three times during the first month it was open and appreciated the delivery speed of her bowls that she ordered online. She also said she found the cubbies where the bowls were delivered to be “unique and exciting.”
Liang added, however, that she was not surprised when she heard about eatsa’s closing.
“The food was good and the space was cute but honestly I wouldn’t be full after eating a bowl,” Liang said in an email. “I would still have to buy or make more food after, and that’s time and money I didn’t have to spare.”
eatsa’s marketing manager Rose Kelly said in an email that although eatsa has decided to focus on the San Francisco market for the time being, the company does not intend to halt expansion indefinitely.
“We believe that with more time and focused iteration, we’ll be able to resume our expansion sometime in the future,” Kelly said in an email.