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.

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:15 a.m. ET: 30,539,903 — Total deaths: 952,629— Total recoveries: 20,800,482Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:15 a.m. ET: 6,726,353 — Total deaths: 198,603 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19 — Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As the coronavirus pandemic drags into its seventh month, it remains an open debate whether the U.S. should aim for the elimination of COVID-19 — and whether we even can at this point.

Why it matters: This is the question underlying all of the political and medical battles over COVID-19. As both the direct effects of the pandemic and the indirect burden of the response continue to add up, we risk ending up with the worst of both worlds if we fail to commit to a course.

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.