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Cafe X shuts some of its robot coffee shops

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cafe X, an operator of robotic coffee shops, has closed its three San Francisco locations and laid off their staffs, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Robots have been hailed as the future of food service, but as Cafe X and pizza-making robot startup Zume are finding, it's not so easy.

Cafe X CEO Henry Hu confirmed the closures in a phone call with Axios, saying the locations were running "prototype" machines that were designed to help the company better understand customer behaviors. It has installed more advanced machines in the San Jose and San Francisco airports, and has plans to add additional airport locations in 2020.

  • Hu also acknowledged that the company asked employees to volunteer to take two weeks of unpaid leave at year-end, in an effort to conserve cash.
  • "It's one of the normal things startups have to deal with."
  • The San Francisco-based startup has raised $15 million in venture capital, and is in the midst of raising a new round that sources say has taken longer than originally expected.