Why Chick-Fil-A Is Charging $2 Extra for You Not to Visit Their Restaurant

Chick-Fil-A customers who do not mind spending an extra $1.99 to have their food delivered could soon have their chicken sandwiches delivered by a robot. Up to three locations in the Santa Monica, California area are already offering customers the option of having their meals delivered by four-wheeled robots designed by Kiwibot, the robotics company's COO, Diego Varela Prada, told Restaurant Business last week. The average delivery will take about a half-hour.

Chick-Fil-A is interested in seeing how the robots help the customer experience. "It’s too early to say where that’s going to end up, but we’re hopeful that we are going to be deploying with them a number of locations later this year or into next year," Prada said. He noted that the small bots will offer a cheaper delivery option and leave behind a smaller carbon footprint compared to a car. "What we promise is to at least halve the time it takes for all orders a mile or closer, and more than half the cost" of delivery, Prada explained.

The fast-food chain signed on to use the most recent version of the Kiwibot. They feature new cameras, lights, and other features like the ability to "wink" at a customer. They are not fully autonomous yet, so a human will be needed to control them remotely and help them cross a street. Kiwibot is also planning to work with Shopify for a similar delivery program in Los Angeles, San Jose, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Miami. The four-year-old company is also in talks with other restaurants, Prada told Restaurant Business.

The decision to invest in robotics is not a complete surprise, as other chains are doing this as well. Domino's recently announced a partnership with Nuro in Houston to deliver pizzas, and Chipotle Mexican Grill also invested in Nuro in March. Walmart, CVS, and Kroger have also partnered with Nuro, notes Insider.

However, one of the reasons people like Chick-Fil-A is the customer service, and the human interaction could be completely erased when they use robots. In June 2020, Chick-Fil-A topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) restaurant report for the sixth year in a row, reports Insider. Chick-Fil-A scored an 84/100 average among the 23,000 customers interviewing. Chipotle came in second with 80 and other chicken chains KFC and Popeyes earned 79 and 74, respectively. "With a business model honed over years to allow quick, more frictionless customer experiences through drive-thru lanes and delivery, the fast-food segment is positioned to fare better than sit-down restaurants in a COVID-19 impacted market," ASCI's report read.