Never fear, Caliburger fans: The international burger chain, which is styled after California-based In-N-Out Burger, isn’t leaving the city for good. The company closed its University District restaurant recently, but it plans to open another by the end of this month in a new food hall at the downtown Westlake Center shopping mall. The new location will better accommodate the company’s new technology, which includes a kitchen robot. Caliburger also operates a location at the Alderwood Mall.
Back in 2017, Caliburger announced plans to install a burger-flipping robot named “Flippy” at 50 of its stores. The company’s founder and CEO said at the time, “The kitchen can be entirely automated. We really think of ourselves as a technology company that happens to sell cheeseburgers.” Caliburger’s other techy bells and whistles were on display at the U District location, which had a massive interactive video wall for gaming and wireless charging stations.
In addition to Flippy, Caliburger’s Westlake location will install self-ordering kiosks with facial recognition capabilities that connect diners to loyalty programs and rewards. It’s all part of a multi-level renovation at Westlake Center that will include a slew of new businesses. The forthcoming food hall will be located on Level 2 of the mall.
The first Caliburger opened in Shanghai in 2012, and it’s been wildly successful, expanding around China and the Middle East and more recently making inroads in the U.S. and Canada. The U District location was the first Caliburger in the U.S. The company is modeled very closely after California-based In-N-Out — so closely, in fact, that In-N-Out sued when Caliburger launched and successfully got the imitator to drop branded terms like “Animal Style” fries and “Double-Double” burgers.