Home / Be The Change / Money / It Begins: Wendy’s Installs Robots in 1,000 Stores to Counter Minimum Wage

It Begins: Wendy’s Installs Robots in 1,000 Stores to Counter Minimum Wage

For the last several years, the Free Thought Project has been predicting what will happen as government continued to arbitrarily fix wages across the US. As politicians deceive their constituents into thinking financial success can come through an act of legislation, employers will find a way to offset this cost. It will either come through higher prices or, in this most recent Wendy’s case — robots.

To offset the costs of being forced to pay employees $15 an hour, Bob Wright, Wendy’s chief operating officer told investors last week Wendy’s has found a solution. In the past two years, Wright noted, Wendy’s has figured out how to eliminate 31 hours of labor per week from its restaurants and is now working to use technology, such as kiosks, to increase efficiency.

The automated kiosks serve two purposes: they give younger customers an ordering experience that they prefer, and they reduce labor costs.

“There is a huge amount of pull from (franchisees) in order to get them,” David Trimm, Wendy’s chief information officer, said last week during the company’s investors’ day.

“With the demand we are seeing … we can absolutely see our way to having 1,000 or more restaurants live with kiosks by the end of the year.”

The spike in demand stems from restaurant owners who want to maintain low prices while sustaining profitability.

According to Dispatch.com:

A typical store would get three kiosks for about $15,000. Trimm estimated the payback on those machines would be less than two years, thanks to labor savings and increased sales. Customers still could order at the counter.


Kiosks are where the industry is headed, but Wendy’s is ahead of the curve, said Darren Tristano, vice president with Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm.

“They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it,” Tristano said. “They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk.”

READ MORE:  Trump Just Went Full Sanders -- Calls for Increasing Minimum Wage and Higher Taxes

While Wendy’s is ahead of the curve as far as outsourcing labor to robots goes, other fast food restaurants are not far behind.

Last month, the Free Thought Project reported on McDonald’s latest attempt to stave off minimum wage hikes. However, unlike Wendy’s kiosks that simply take your order, the McDonald’s machines do it all — including spitting out a piping hot, 563 calorie, Big Mac.

While automation in the labor market is inevitable as technology increases, laws that dictate minimum wages only serve to speed up this automation. Sadly, many people will read this article and immediately assume that it’s some fascist right wing rant that ignores the plight of the working class. However, that assessment couldn’t be further from the truth.

Raising the minimum wage does nothing to protect the working class. In fact, as we see with these Wendy’s robots, a mandatory minimum wage destroys the working class.

As Nobelist Milton Friedman correctly quipped, “A minimum wage law is, in reality, a law that makes it illegal for an employer to hire a person with limited skills.”

If the economic effects of a minimum wage aren’t convincing enough, perhaps consider the racist background of such laws. As Andrew Syrios points out, most Americans have no clue about the racist intentions and subsequent effects of the original minimum wage.

When Apartheid was collapsing in South Africa, the economist Walter Williams did a study of South African labor markets and found that many white unions were seeking to increase the minimum wage. He quotes one such union leader as saying “… I support the rate for the job (minimum wages) as the second best way of protecting white artisans.” By pricing out less educated black laborers with a minimum wage, white unions were able to insulate themselves from competition.


Indeed, the Davis-Bacon Act, which demands that private employers pay “prevailing wages” for any government contracts, was explicitly passed as a Jim Crow law in order to protect white jobs from cheaper black competitors. And while the minimum wage is supported with much more pleasant rhetoric these days, the effects on black employment, particularly black teenage employment, have been devastating. As Thomas Sowell observes,


In 1948 … the unemployment rate among black 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds was 9.4 percent, slightly lower than that for white kids the same ages, which was 10.2 percent. Over the decades since then, we have gotten used to unemployment rates among black teenagers being over 30 percent, 40 percent or in some years even 50 percent.


It’s hard to imagine that black unemployment was actually less than that of whites. But that is the effect minimum wage laws can have.


Ending poverty and giving people additional income are praiseworthy goals, but there are no free lunches in this world. And trying to force prosperity through a minimum wage simply creates a whole host of negative and unintended consequences especially for those who are the most vulnerable.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project.  and now on Steemit
  • The Cat’s Vagina

    I think it’s sad that anyone believes they were never going to use these things if it weren’t for the audacious greed of people who think they’re entitled not to be homeless and starving on a full-time paycheck! The fact is, they resent having to pay even a dollar an hour to those “losers” who, again, are the TRULY greedy ones!

    • David Daisy May Boldock

      I’m just a robot
      I have no fears
      I lack emotion
      And I shed no tears.

    • John Lawrence

      The average American is a blithering idiot. My first job at 15, back when education wasn’t QUITE the joke it is today, was at McDonald’s. More than once, my friend and I, for whatever reason, ended up being the only two people on the entire floor for the entirety of lunch and dinner rush. We had enough employees, but I do recall vividly that some idiot put all their breaks at the same time a couple times and they probably just stayed out longer because they were assholes. Anyway, we were able to keep the place flowing probably smoother alone than when the others were there. He’d work the back drive-thru window and put the food together while I’d work 2 registers and hand out the food at the second window. Never needed help and nothing was ever processed wrong because we weren’t retarded and it’s basically a monkey’s job.

      Nowadays, most of the people there barely speak a word of English – especially here in South Florida where if you can’t speak that ugly language Creole, good luck – and have the work ethic of a piece of dry wood. In the food industry especially, you really have to pay attention to what the person orders because of allergies in particular, but most of them have it written all over their faces that they couldn’t care less. It’s quite similar in a lot of retail superstores that have self-checkouts now. Not to say that those kinds of jobs are anything to get excited over, but at least they have an income. But those checkouts just kind of go to show that those people are ultimately unnecessary. It doesn’t take any brains to drag a bar code over a laser (and sadly, most people who go to those things still can’t figure it out and they come in all ages and races, which probably explains a lot of my depression and rage at humanity in general).

      People used to build cars by hand decades ago. A large majority of people in car manufacturing plants anymore are simply maintenance guys because machines can build them faster and just as accurately. Kiosks are and always have been an inevitability. Strangely and ironically in a way, despite the fact that technology is constantly improving, thus requiring people to be more intelligent to keep up with maintaining and operating them, we seem to be celebrating laziness and stupidity like never before, and unless you go to a vocational school, you’ll end up in a college (if you even decide to go) that will promote non-classes like fucking gender studies, which does nothing to help anyone except easily-offended asshats who do nothing but whine about every non-existent problem in their lives.

      There are always going to be jobs that require people and need a hands-on experience. Just have to look for them and actually want to have them. It also doesn’t hurt to not look like a complete douchebag with holes in their ears you can throw a quarter through or blue hair or face tattoos or solid gold grills or forty piercings. Most places of business have an image to maintain, but hey, if some people want to live at their parent’s house for the rest of their lives, that’s on them.

    • PRDiddy

      Flipping burgers is a job that kids are supposed to have, not an adult that’s trying to support a family.

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        Says who? That sounds like a bunch of social snobbery.

        • PRDiddy

          So an adult with a wife and a couple of kids should be able to work at low/no skilled job, like McD’s, and expect to be able to support them all?

          • StopDeletingMyComments

            YES and in fact that’s the way this country used to be, it was called economic freedom.

          • PRDiddy

            If you actually expect that a job that requires little to no skill should be enough for someone to support an average American family in this day and age, then you are delusional.

          • Steve Lives

            Right, better to let them starve in the streets. That will surely work out for the rich… If you want to see delusional, have a peek at a mirror.

          • PRDiddy

            They won’t starve if they’re smart and acquire a skill that will pay them more than minimum wage.

          • Steve Lives
          • James

            Dumbass it costs money to acquire a skill.

          • Dave Bonnell

            Why are you only paying people for skill when effort in a job is even more important. Damn right if your busting your ass for 40 hours a week for your overlords to make their millions, you should be rewarded with at least enough pay to survive. If not, then in the true form of capitalism, their business plan is bad.

          • elropo

            The way this country used to be was on minimum wage, mom could stay home with the kids, was able to rent a home in a decent neighborhood,drive a decent auto, pay all the bills on time, even go out on a weekend and have some fun.. The way it used to be but hasn’t been for a long time..

          • ProperModulation

            In your dreams it was never like that

          • The Cat’s Vagina

            I never said that, but if they BOTH have full-time jobs, you’re saying their kids should go hungry (or else live without parental supervision) as punishment for not having smarter parents… or are you suggesting that taxpayers should feed those kids to spare our corporate overlords from having to part with their precious profits and dividends?

          • PRDiddy

            If both parents have a full time, minimum wage, no skilled job, then it is possible to support the family…..wouldn’t be in the most ideal conditions, but it is possible. Kids aren’t responsible for their parents lack of education, however, that burden shouldn’t fall on everyone else, and it will, if you were to raise the minimum wage to some absurd level like $15 per hour.

          • The Cat’s Vagina

            While I’m a big fan of the idea of a minimum wage, I’m not one of those daft twits who believes that poverty can be eliminated (or even slightly mitigated) by raising it. Even so, if wages had kept up with inflation like they’re SUPPOSED to in a stable economy, the current minimum wage would be more than $10 an hour instead of $7.25.

          • ProperModulation

            So anyone who has too few skills to be worth $10 should be unemployable??? Can’t they be hired at a lower wage to gain job experience and skill to command a higher wage or should they be stuck forever per your plan?

          • James

            As they are stuck forever in poverty in your plan. You have to live while building skills and 7.25 doesnt allow you to live. Also the jobs we are talking about create ZERO skills. So they are forever stuck in poverty. Keep drinking the capitalist koolaid as you get poorer.

          • ProperModulation

            Showing up for work every day improving your reliability is a skill. The capitalist Kool-Aid has vastly improved the average human condition. Drastically longer lifespans. He productions in infant mortality The lowest number of people living in extreme poverty that we have ever seen in human history.

          • Steve Lives

            Actually, if it had not been untied from the rate of inflation in the late 60s, it would be about $23.00 an hour today.

          • Don Hart

            You’re correct, the inequalities in education between richer and poorer are the cause of the problem. Trump & Devos will eliminate that problem, by destroying public education for Christian religious sharia. Then we can blame the poor for lack of education, sell the poor to the rich as slaves and reduce the debt.

          • ProperModulation

            Oh my god you’re defending the current education system??? After the highest spending in the civilized world giving us the poor results we see ???? By all means defend the teachers unions rather thsn the children

          • James

            15 an hour is absurd but millions a year is not? You are a scumbag.

          • James

            You have proven how capitalism rots everyone to the core. You are a son of a bitch. By the way yes EVERYONE who works should be able to support themselves and not rely on welfare.

        • ProperModulation

          Per the BLS, 3.3 percent of the work force makes at or below the minimum wage in 2015. So why does 96.7% make more without a LAW forcing that to happen??? Seems like liberty and freedom in markets is working fine for the huge majority of workers. Sorry, only the terminally stupid would think government intervention will do anything but hurt the 3.3% AND those that would LIKE to work, but are being PREVENTED by the current laws.

          • James

            Poor people being prevented from working because of minimum wage laws. They can volunteer if they like slave wages. People have to eat, have a shelter, etc. Scumbags like you are why we all are getting poorer. Also that 96.7% number is BS. How many make 5 to 25 cents above minimum wage which is essentially just as bad. Keep up this logic and before long people will demand communism.

          • ProperModulation

            Sorry people are not allowed to volunteer. That used to be called internships were people work for free to gain job experience. In its eminent wisdom the government has made that against the law. No someone wants the work for free the other person can be thrown in jail by government jackbooted thugs. If you don’t like the number I quoted, you can argue with ObamasBureau of Labor Statistics. As a famous economist said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch. ” You artificially raise the wages of nearly half the workers, that will inevitably impact the rest. Cost of production goes up, plus the consumer pace will go up Everyone will have more money to expend on more expensive things. Net gain equal zero.

          • Dave Bonnell

            Nearly half (42%) of the entire workforce makes lass than $15 per hour.

  • David Daisy May Boldock

    Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be our children.

  • self check outs are already over running the retail and grocery sectors…………the remarkable thing is the workers do not seem to care and their unions seem to care even less .

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      Sometimes, I like to do my big bulk grocery shopping late at night in 24-hour stores. One such night, I’d filled my buggy to the top with groceries from all over the store and when I got ready to check out, nothing was open but self-checkout. Those things are such an obnoxious pain in the ass that there was NO WAY I was about to spend two hours negotiating whether or not the last item was properly placed on the bagging scale! I summoned the manager and gave him a choice: get someone to come up here and check me out or get someone to come up here and put all this shit back when I storm out in a huff. He made the wiser choice.

      • cold340t

        Well done! A lesson for US ALL!

      • TecumsehUnfaced


    • billdeserthills

      I refuse to go through self-checkout
      Just to save jobs, whenever I drop something on the floor at the store,
      I like to carefully kick it under the counter

      • The Cat’s Vagina

        Hopefully not fresh meat!

        • billdeserthills

          Only cans & boxes

          • The Cat’s Vagina

            Then keep up the good work – down with the robopocalypse!

  • TechGump

    Spot on analysis. Thanks.

  • cold340t

    When sales decline enough, they will either close or bring back People/Staff. Fast food consumption has been on decline for years anyway. Do We really care if they close. Then to be replaced by Smart Thinking Local Entrepreneurs. Ah, isn’t this the American Way? Find a need and fill it Locally.

    • ProperModulation

      Decline? Sorry, I will seek out to do business with companies that eliminate the poor service and human error of idiot teen’s that take your orders.

      • cold340t

        I only care about the quality of the food I eat. Poor service with great food quality, I go back. Great/good service and ok food, not going back. Like you, I make an informed decision. I however, really care most about the quality of the food that goes into my body. Not poor service from young/old or just lousy servers. No or small tip for them.
        As long as the food is good/great, I will be back for more, service be damned.

  • Great News! RBE, here we come!

    The funniest part of this is that Capitalism will be paving the way.

    Future by Design (2006) Official Full Movie

  • No job is safe:

    Robots will eliminate 6% of all US jobs by 2021, report says

    IBM’s Watson Supercomputer May Soon Be The Best Doctor In The World

    Would you let a robot perform your surgery by itself?


    Foxconn replaces ‘60,000 factory workers (Chinese) with robots’

    Peek Inside Tesla’s Robotic Factory

    U.S. Navy unveils robotic firefighter

    The New Cop on the Beat May Be a Bot

    Police used a robot to kill — The key questions

    Robots will replace fast-food workers

    And this is just a small snippet to what is available now and coming very soon.

    Will Work For Free | OFFICIAL RELEASE | 2013

  • gene456

    You asked for every bit of this, moronic liberals. Enjoy.

  • Just4You

    Anyone have thoughts on Gates’s idea to tax robots?

  • Nunzio Bartalino

    There are some stores that have apps so that you can just scan your merchandise and pay for it -all in one step. I am doing all of the work and I am getting paid NOTHING and that is much lower than the minimum wage.

  • Morris Klein

    They just installed a key copying vending machine in my local 7-11. The guy a block away who did that for a living now has a robot competitor.

  • Bob Btme

    If you’re eating at Wendy’s on a regular basis you’re already fucked!

  • Lorne Allen

    Here is a list of countries with the highest minimum wages in the world. It may as well be a list of the world’s greatest countries. You will not find China, India, Russia, any country in Africa or the middle east except for Israel. Automation and robots free Humanity from toil and lower the cost of goods and services, making life more affordable for everyone.


  • Dan Alvírez

    Self check-out became popular long before the minimum wage fight. The easy way around it is to go up to the counterperson and order in person. I don’t use them because I am not going to be customer and employee of the same store at the same time. If I have to check myself out and bag my own stuff, then I should get the employee discount. Argue that with the manager.

  • Samuel Lane

    In 1966 there was a restaurant in Chevy Chase MD just short of the DC line that was fully automated! Only person was the cashier. At Ft. Drum, NY, in the PX Annex, they had a “robot pizza” machine that made the pizza from start to finish. One of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted! I And that was in the ’80’s!

  • Tom Connolly

    The introduction of automation has nothing to do with the minimum wage. It is inevitable and coming fast. We live in a profit driven society (as sad as that may be) and corporations will do whatever is expedient to save costs and generate more for the bottom line. Governments are going to have to find a way to bridge the problem until people can be retrained in fields that are not currently able to be automated…but even that is a short term solution.
    A guaranteed minimum income paid to everyone (for whom there is just no work) is being touted as a solution in many countries around the world. Get used to a system of haves and have-not’s like we have never seen before.

  • eda

    They are so full of crap…machinery can be even more expensive than a human. Plus human like talking to other humans. They may go to automation for the novelty but they will go to a place that uses humans. This is a bid to get out of paying people a living wage…Guess what people are leaving the restaurant business in droves. That’s why you see the hiring signs everywhere.

  • D_Sherman

    First of all, can we dispense with the phrase, “It begins”, “So it begins”, etc? It’s supposed to sound ominous (replace “it” with your darkest nightmare), but it got ridiculously over-used in reference to Trump’s first month in office and now it’s a meaningless cliche. But more to the point, “it” (replacement of humans with machines) began with the first person who was both clever and either stingy or lazy. The wheelbarrow allowed one medieval construction laborer to carry as much stuff as two used to. The steam-powered mine pump replaced men with buckets. Things really got going, though, with the Jacquard loom — the first programmable machine. Since then, machines have replaced humans in all kinds of jobs and for the most part we’ve been happier and richer for it. “It” is certainly not an unmitigated good. We have a serious social problem not so much with the minimum wage being too low, but with there not being enough jobs that are a step up from minimum wage. But “it” is not something that just now began. Automated order entry is just one point on a continuum.

    I think the overlooked key to customer-service automation is in this line: “they give younger customers an ordering experience that they prefer.” Younger customers (and plenty of older ones once they get used to it) actually prefer dealing with a machine for basic tasks that require no variations or creative thought. The machine is quick, the machine gets it right, and at least for introverts, interacting with a machine is less stressful than interacting with a human person with all the associated psychological baggage. Who would genuinely prefer to go back to the days when getting cash from a bank required going to the bank while they were open, filling out a withdrawal slip, and waiting in line?

  • David Daisy May Boldock

    The higher the minimum wage goes, the lower the threshold will go for robots to replace humans in many minimum-wage roles.

    • James

      And conservatism and its great lie of capitalism will cause the country to collapse. Hard to have an economy with no middle class.

  • David Daisy May Boldock

    If you don’t want a generation of robots, fund the arts!

  • Ryukashin

    A minimum wage job is not meant to make a livable wage. A management position, sure but you are talking about a career at that point. These jobs are meant for high school and college students who want or needs a little extra money while learning skill/life lessons/etc in their first job.

    Increasing the minimum wage only serves to devalue the earnings of everyone above the minimum. Corporations will never pay for increases out of their profit margins, the cost will always be passed back to the consumer in some way. Oh McD’s is paying $10/hour, guess what the sandwiches all increased by $0.10 to accommodate. The food in the grocery store has all gone up to pay the bag boy $10 an hour now, everything in your life you purchase everyday that involves the labor of someone making minimum wage has increased to ensure that the company doesn’t lose any money from having to pay employees more.

    All the while, your paycheck feels ever increasingly smaller as it continually closes in on the rising minimum wage value, lowering your economic status from middle to lower class due to your lack to afford the same things you were before.

    The thing that doesn’t make sense in all of this is why, outside of wages and greed, have prices gone up on anything. Instead of the government, states, unions, etc fight to raise wages, why don’t they fight to keep manufacturing costs down and the prices of goods and services as low as possible. If prices fell back to what they were even 20 years ago, everyone’s dollar would stretch a lot farther.

    • Boba Vette

      So why hasn’t the minimum wage increased with COLA? Thats the real question

    • Ev Rom

      McDonalds is going to raise that price eventually any way, prices keep going up no matter what. SO they can continually raise prices but wages must remain stagnant? Way to protect money that isn’t even yours, that is being used to devalue employment and wipe out the middle class…

      • Ryukashin

        Like I said in my post, raising minimum wage doesn’t help anyone. Prices will increase, the value of the dollar will decrease and everyone income will not quite go as far. However, I’ve already made this argument, so lets take the other side of the same argument, that you even brought up, regarding the devaluation of skills and education.

        So many states in their recently passed minimum wage bills increase minimum wage every year until it is $20/hour. My entry level job after college had a base wage of about $20/hour. So for the time and money spent to earn a Bachelor’s degree in science, I earned 12.50/hour more than someone with no skills or education working a minimum wage job. Currently with the increase to 10/hour, that has brought down the added value of an education for the same position to 10/hour more than an unskilled laborer. As time goes on the law will bring minimum wage up to $20/hour, where as that company will probably not have increased its wages by much, bringing the difference between an educated worker and an unskilled laborer to nothing. Additionally, the opportunity cost of the educated person would actually be negative. This is due to lack of wages from the time of high school graduation to college graduation (assuming that the student had scholarships and/or that any part time job worked went to pay daily expenses throughout college.), the cost of earning a college decree from a 4 year university($50k+), and any additional costs, promotion opportunities/advancements, etc that could have been earned or occurred during that period. This would put getting an education possibly $100k behind flipping burgers right out of high school, with no immediate opportunity to balance out this difference.

        This will eventually make pursuing an education beyond high school contain no value what-so-ever, and even cost the person more money in the end. Additionally, in the choice between a low stress job (fast food, retail, etc) vs a higher stress job (college career) for the same pay, most people will choose the easier low stress job.

  • Don Hart

    Another Republican lie. All fast food restaurants, among many other industries are gradually changing to automation. This has been happening regardless of the minimum wage. Free slaves as workers would not stop this, anymore than coal workers arlosing work to environmental regulations. Coal lost to natural gas and renewables. Gas gets far more tax subsidies than renewables 22% versus 10% of subsidies..

  • Zachary Virgo

    These things were in the works years ago. They’ve been in test markets in the US for a few years now and in Europe and Canada for nearly 10 years. This was coming no matter what, but honestly it might replace…1 or 2 employees per store max

  • Boba Vette

    Another repubtard lie. Automation has been in the works for years. We have self check out at my store but I always go to a cashier. Its just better service. I have food kiosk at my airport and that kiosk took over 100 workers to create so no one is losing jobs per say. The jobs are just shifting.

  • Ev Rom

    I know someone who works in this field and it’s been years in the works, this didn’t happen as a response to the minimum wage. They had this planned all long, for many years. This technology and machines didn’t just pop up, they’ve been working on them and testing them for years. If you buy from any business using these machines its your own fault if you loose your jobs because they are looking to replace as many jobs as they can with these machines, you are paying for your own demise.

  • oldsoftshoe

    Obviously the number of uemployed people is only going to go up. And yet the economists talk about “consumer lead” recovery as if it were real, and not just a huge expansion of personal debt. Obviously it is no longer a useful skill, useful to the individual that is, to be a good consumer. Schools should focus on how to create friendships and coreliance, so that people can have a better standard of living by learning to live together, minimizing consumption. The cost of fast food for what you get is horrendous: people would eat better if they cooked a meal at home. For what the fast food people charge for a meal for two you could easily feed six people with home cooked food. Unlearning consumerism is the solution. Money you dont spend you dont have to earn. The combined rents for three one bedroom apartments could readily rent a five bedroom house. Learning to live together is the skill many of these people need.