With minimum wages rising in cities across the country — Birmingham, Ala., is the latest to approve a hike — some industry insiders worry about potential unintended consequences. One result might be a dystopian future where robots an computers take orders, cook food, and deliver it, writes the Washington Post.
The restaurant industry is always trying to cut costs and streamline process via technological advancement. And with minimum wage on the rise, labor is getting more expensive, thus providing the incentive to look harder at robots to replace humans. Tablet apps already allow restaurants to take orders without the human interaction between server and customer. Robots that cook food and drones that deliver it may be on the horizon, too. One industry insider, Middleby Corp. chief operating officer Dave Brewer, who oversees dozens of kitchen equipment brands, believes technology will decimate restaurant staffs, leaving what are essentially teams of IT pros and mechanics to operate and fix the robots.
"You don't want a $15-an-hour person doing something that the person who makes $7 an hour can do," Brewer told the Post. "It's not downgrading the employees. It's that the employees become managers of a bunch of different systems. They'll become smarter and smarter."
A race of robot restaurant workers isn't the only thing detractors point to when arguing against minimum wage hikes. Some in the industry say higher wages will lead to job losses and pricier menus.