clock menu more-arrow no yes

Eatsa says it’s surprised by a lawsuit that accused it of violating blind customers’ rights

A nonprofit sued the restaurant chain for allegedly being inaccessible to visually impaired customers.

Fully Automated Fast Food Restaurant Opens In San Francisco Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Eatsa, a restaurant chain startup known for its nearly human-free ordering and pickup experience, says it’s surprised by a federal class action lawsuit filed against it yesterday accusing the new restaurant chain of being inaccessible to blind and low-vision customers.

“We are strong supporters of the rights of the visually impaired and have served many visually impaired customers since we opened our first Eatsa in 2015,” the company said in a statement shared with Recode. It notes that each of its locations is staffed with human hosts that can help customers, and that all of its technology “is designed to be compatible with the appropriate assistance features.”

“We truly think there is some error in their understanding of the Eatsa technology and service and look forward to working through this amicably so we can continue providing a great service to all of our customers,” Eatsa said.

The lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocates, alleges that the iPad touchscreens used to order food at Eatsa, as well as the restaurant’s automated cubbyhole pick-up wall and mobile app, all lack accessibility features and thus disenfranchise visually impaired customers. DRA says that accessibility technology for blind and low-vision customers has long been available, but that Eatsa failed to include it in its design.

Eatsa was founded in 2015 by Scott Drummond and Tim Young. Since opening its first location in San Francisco, the restaurant concept has received plenty of press attention for setting a pioneering example of how technology can alter the future of food service.

Here’s Eatsa’s full statement on the lawsuit:

We are surprised by this action by DRA. We are strong supporters of the rights of the visually impaired and have served many visually impaired customers since we opened our first Eatsa in 2015. In fact, every Eatsa location is staffed with Hosts that provide personalized ordering and pickup assistance to visually impaired customers, should they desire additional assistance, and all of our technology is designed to be compatible with the appropriate assistance features. We regret that the DRA did not spend time with Eatsa's staff before taking legal action and hope to bring them satisfaction through a more detailed demonstration and understanding of our service. We truly think there is some error in their understanding of the Eatsa technology and service and look forward to working through this amicably so we can continue providing a great service to all of our customers.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.