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Fast food restaurants in 2050

restaurants

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#1
GTrang

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What will fast food restaurants in the USA like Arby's, Carl's Jr., Chick-fil-A, Del Taco, Five Guys, In-N-Out Burger, Jack in the Box, KFC, McDonald's, Popeyes, Subway, Taco Bell, and Wendy's look like in 2050? For example, might they have robots delivering food for us by then? Will McDonald's and Jack in the Box still serve french fries and nuggets in 2050?

 

One question often asked is whether robots themselves will ever need to eat food or drink water. The answer is no, because robots are not biological organisms.


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#2
Erowind

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Assuming we continue to ignore the climate crisis they'll either be serving wholly vegetarian and vegan meals or might not even exist anymore. Fast food is a product of consumer culture and I doubt consumerism will survive until 2050 considering that food stress and resource scarcity will be pretty bad by then. Life in 2050 assuming we don't tackle the climate crisis will be like living as a civilian during WWII resource wise. Most everything will be rationed. 



#3
Nick1984

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In terms of food, I imagine invitro meats will make up a large percentage of the menu.

As for the brand's, the likes of McDonald's, KFC, Burger King and Subway are so ingrained into global culture there's a possibility that they could be around for hundreds of years in one form or another. Even if the companies go bust the brand's will just be resurrected.

Eating out is becoming increasingly popular (at least here in the UK), so restaurants will still be hugely popular.

#4
funkervogt

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1) Fast food restaurants will be mostly automated. 

2) They will serve better meat substitutes than we have today. 

 

Coincidentally, I just ate an Impossible Burger at Burger King. It had a slightly more muted taste than the same burger with a meat patty. That is all. 


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#5
starspawn0

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What fast food restaurants will actually be like will have a lot more to do with consumer demand than with the limits of technology. The technology will exist to automate practically the whole fast food experience -- ordering (automatable already), cashier (also already automatable), cooking the food (some parts already possible; most of the rest will fall in the next 30 years). But in 30 years, people may not be that interested in fast food restaurants. They might prefer to eat it in their self-driving car, and have drones deliver it to them while on the road. Or, there might be some new class of business that acts like a food court for dozens of restaurants -- you order through your virtual assistant remotely; pull up to the food court in your self-driving car; get out, go inside, and a robot will deliver the food to you. This would be a more efficient use of space, and would also service people's desire not to eat in their cars.

We have no idea what kinds of fads will be popular in 30 years. People's tastes are hard to predict.
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#6
JanJelleNL

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Besides preference for food there's also preference for sociability. If people prefer spending time eating with others, this could motivate them to not eat at home or in their car but instead in a restaurant. But fast food restaurants, especially with automation, is a less social experience than fine dining or eating in a pub. So maybe fast food fits a 'medium' level preference for sociability, while eating at home/in cars fits a low level of sociability. 

 

What could drive preference for sociability?

- The number of singles is increasing and will make up a very substantial share of population by 2050 at least in Western countries (I'm less familiar with the situation in other parts of the world). A 'proper' restaurant (served at the table, no single-person or shared tables available, substantial waiting time for food) can be a very awkward experience for a single person eating alone. This trend could stimulate demand for fast food, and especially automated fast food. Or it could stimulate demand for eating at home and in your car at the cost of fast food. 

- In some countries there seems to be a trend of (subgroups within) younger generations being less outgoing, like the otakus in Japan. A few days ago YouGov reported based on a survey in the US that millennials have fewer friends than earlier generations, with the most important (self-reported) reason that they are shy. If there's a trend towards more shyness and fewer friendships going towards 2050, this too could support a lower preference for social eating and a higher preference for either (automated) fast food or eating at home/in cars. 

 

But you could also turn it on its head: if people are more lonely, they could actually have a higher demand for social experiences to counteract this. But that implies getting out of your comfort zone, which people aren't usually very fond of.

 

A scenario: by 2050 half of the population of most developed nations is single, and eats nearly all meals alone. They eat in their self-driving car with drone delivery (like in starspawn0's post) or food pick up at mobility hubs. If they eat in a restaurant, they prefer a fully automated experience in which food is ordered, served and paid for without any human interaction, and people eat at one-person booths with high quality video or VR entertainment. A small "social elite" looks down on this behavior and tries to eat as many meals as possible in slow-food, authentic restaurants or pubs. The fast food restaurant as we know it today (some anonymity, but also some human interaction and a limited level of automation) has disappeared. 






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