AUSTIN – When a sleek sign advertising a “digital kitchen” recently appeared on a Whataburger LLC restaurant under construction off Bee Cave Road, social media was abuzz with questions about the new fast-food burger joint.
It will look much like a regular Whataburger but will be centered around to-go dining, with a “digital pick-up lane” instead of a traditional drive-thru.
“We’re excited to introduce Whataburger’s first digital kitchen in Austin’s Bee Cave to allow for newer, faster and more convenient ways to serve our guests while providing an elevated digital experience,” Alexander Ivannikov, Whataburger executive vice president and chief administrative officer, said in an email.
A June 18 visit to the store at 3201 Bee Cave Road found plenty of parking outside. There were two kiosks out front, with signs instructing customers to use them to order food, or the Whataburger app, then pick up their meal in a “food locker.”
The store is strictly for pick-ups with no dining room. It takes elements of a ghost kitchen along with pieces of the take-out model found at places such as Tso Chinese. It’s a notable experiment in restaurant design and function for Whataburger at a time when many quick-service restaurants are testing out new ways to appeal to customers post-pandemic.
While this nearly 2,300-square-foot store is moving in a digital direction, it will not lose the human touch. Whataburger will need about 50 employees for this location, including salaried restaurant leadership, management positions and hourly workers.
Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.