Minimum Wage Hikes Force Wendy’s to Install Self-Order Kiosks at 1,000 Stores

Protesters block traffic as part of national protest to push fast-food chains to pay employees at least $15 an hour / AP

The fast-food chain Wendy's plans to install self-order kiosks at 1,000 restaurants across the country in order to cut rising labor costs amid minimum wage hikes in several states.

Wendy's franchises in the United States will have the kiosks installed by the end of the year, the Columbus Dispatch reported. They will replace some employees to save money but are also more popular with younger customers.

The average restaurant will receive three kiosks at a cost of $15,000.

Wendy's planned last year to install the kiosks at thousands of locations to combat higher labor costs resulting from minimum wage hikes in states like California and New York–both of which have minimum wage rates in double digits, Breitbart News reported.

Wendy's franchises "will likely look at the opportunity to reduce overall staff, look at the opportunity to certainly reduce hours, and any other cost reduction opportunities, not just price," CEO Emil Brolick said in 2015.

Across the country, businesses have had to reduce their number of employees as minimum wages have increased. Many unions are demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour, which businesses have called too costly and argued would force massive layoffs.

Fast-food restaurants have been exploring ways to replace costly human workers with automation. Restaurants that have already implemented the kiosks, such as Panera, have reported that the machines have been a great relief during rush periods and have allowed kitchen staff to be more productive.