Technology critic Evgeny Morozov has made a career of rapping the knuckles of Silicon Valley for subscribing to what he calls solutionism. That is, “an intellectual pathology that recognizes problems as problems based on just one criterion: whether they are ‘solvable’ with a nice and clean technological solution at our disposal.” And though Morozov is probably more worried about the way technology pretends to solve deep existential dilemmas with computing power, he should be more worried about grilled cheese. For serious.
When grilled cheesatorium The Melt reopens its four San Francisco locations tomorrow after a tech-enhanced redo, it will be debuting more whiz bang gadgetry to heat cheese between slices of bread than the Starship Enterprise used to discover new life and civilizations. Eater SF passes along the details: The reopened stores will have “in-store ordering kiosks, digital display monitors with menus and specials, and the "Smart Box," a mobile carrier for catering that was developed with NASA” All that, just to grill cheese.
The Smart Box has been in development for over a year, according to the SF Business Times, and was designed with the help of consultants with professional roots at the space agency that was tasked to be the repository of the dreams of the human race, bravely blazing towards our future among the stars, and now helps figure out how to deliver that lump of heated fat to you before it congeals, because you can’t even leave tear yourself away from looking at Kim Kardashian butt pics on your break for one minute to walk across the street and eat the sandwich in the store. The box, much like the lunar lander, has heating elements, fans, and internal sensors.
Even better—and not creepy at all given the events of this week—The Melt will have a “geo-fencing” system in place that uses your smartphone to alert the store of your pending arrival. The Melt is backed by a team of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest, including Ron Johnson, who ran retail operations for Apple, venture capitalists Mike Moritz, Bruce Dunlevie, and Michael Marks, as well as restaurateur Michael Minna. They also now sell cheeseburgers.