Steak ’n Shake customer rages over new 'facial' payment method at 300 locations (2024)

Steak ’n Shake customer rages over new 'facial' payment method at 300 locations (1)
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The payment method was being tested over the past year

  • Jacob Willeford, Consumer Reporter

CUSTOMERS at Steak n' Shake have been fuming over a newly introduced feature in some locations.

The payment addition was recently added to at least 300 of the fast food chain's restaurants, to the dismay of some.


In 2023, Steak n' Shake completely moved its business model over from full-service to self-service, per Restaurant Dive.

Nearly all locations now feature digital kiosks where customers place their orders instead of being seated and having a server come to take their orders and bring them out from the kitchen.

Now, those digital kiosks at Steak n' Shake have an added technology set to make the payment process smoother for fans, according to a press release from the brand on April 15.

At the end of last year, Steak n' Shake partnered with tech company PopID to test a "biometric facial recognition check-in and check-out" at one of its locations.

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It then moved from a single kiosk to 25 at five different Steak n' Shakes in the United States, according to what PopID CFO Sean Olson told Restaurant Dive.

PopID and Steak n' Shake then decided to move forward with complete implementation in January, with the process set to be complete by the end of this month.

Steak n' Shake is supposedly the first fast food chain to bring in facial recognition software for payments, per its press release.

It stated that the goal was to make kiosk ordering operations "fast, easier, and more personalized."

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PopID worked in tandem with Acrelec, a company that supplies drive-thru and kiosk hardware to Steak n' Shake and other brands, to make the facial recognition payment feature possible.

Olson said the integration process of the feature takes about two weeks at Steak n' Shake locations.

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John Miller, the CEO of PopID and chairman of Cali Group, explained that the operation could increase customer "loyalty" and "revenue" for the Steak n' Shake brand.


Customers would not have to take out their cards or cash to pay, and employees would also not have to take the time to process the payment, according to Miller.

It would be instantaneous with the check-in and check-out facial recognition.

"Similar to the kiosks, biometric check-in can increase loyalty participation and revenue at the drive-thru while also reducing payment processing costs," Miller said in a statement.

"Additionally, biometric payment at the order confirmation screen enables staff members to work on tasks other than taking payments by card and phone at the order pick-up window."

Olson also said the check-in and check-out process takes a total of about two to three seconds, according to his statements to Restaurant Dive.

Despite the efficiency benefits, some customers are not thrilled with the facial recognition implementation.


A frustrated fan said they would not be going to Steak n' Shake anymore after coming across the technology, claiming they weren't allowed to pay cash while ordering at the kiosk.

"Well the woke crowd has ruined my favorite fast food place to go steak and shake," they wrote in a thread on Facebook.

"Can't use money you have to have a card there's nobody in the place everything is done by automation..."

"I mean this place is going to crap I'll never be back...the kiosk to order performed facial recognition," they added.

The customer also claimed that Steak n' Shake is "doing facial recognition without authorization."

Another fan remarked, "sad ending of a beloved eatery."

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For more fast food content, check out The U.S. Sun's coverage of the spicy twist on a key snack returning at Taco Bell.

The U.S. Sun also has the story on the popular southern-style chicken chain expanding with 30 new locations by 2030.

Steak ’n Shake customer rages over new 'facial' payment method at 300 locations (2024)


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