March 8, 2021

Are food lockers the wave of the future?

By Dennis Lee for The Takeout | Photo: Xinhua News Agency / Contributor (Getty Images)

Fast food chains have been exploring the concept of food lockers during the pandemic as a contactless way to hand off food to customers. They’re not a new concept, but the idea’s being revisited by chains in order to also improve efficiency and wait times. The only place near me that employs food lockers is Little Caesars (aptly called the “Pizza Portal”), but I could easily see this kind of thing being more commonplace sooner than later.

Insider explores the possibilities. Lockers can vary in terms of purpose and ability, whether it’s to hold hot or cold food; some of them are even equipped with UV light to ward off bacteria. This is also an efficient way to hold food for delivery drivers. Chains are playing with different methods for unlocking the lockers, like a traditional PIN pad with a code, scanned QR codes, or even a reply to a text message.

Food lockers, however, aren’t being limited to restaurants. Alchemista, a company that formerly catered food to corporate clients like TripAdvisor and Moderna, has pivoted to food lockers. Currently its working on expansion to residential buildings; after that, there are plans to bring food lockers to offices, sports centers, and college campuses. Free office lunch might look a lot different when we return. But keep an eye out: it looks like we might be dealing with our own little cubbyholes to pick up a quick meal in the future.

Then, of course, there’s the automat, the old wave of the future, that may be evolving into the new wave of the futureWe’ve been thinking about automats for a while now. I really wish we had an automat in Chicago. I have always wanted to use one even though I know really it’s just a glorified vending machine.


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