• 01.13.14

Will This Vending Machine For Burritos Change The Business Of Fast Food?

If Chipotle is Blockbuster, could Burritobox be Redbox?

Will This Vending Machine For Burritos Change The Business Of Fast Food?

Piping hot tortillas filled with free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, uncured bacon, and cage-free eggs. Cold guacamole and sour cream. Hot sauce. No hormones. No antibiotics. That may sound a lot like Chipotle. In reality, it’s a burrito cooked and dispensed by Burritobox within a minute and it’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


“We do not cook a frozen burrito. This has been a huge misconception from some people,” insists The Box Brands co-founder and CEO Denis Koci. “It’s not possible to cook a frozen burrito in 60 seconds, nor would it taste good.”

Instead, Burritobox uses a “customized cooking system that is steam-based,” and beyond that, Koci was quiet on the details. From what we can tell, perusing Burritobox’s official Instagram feed, the proteins aren’t actually cooked–and the burritos aren’t literally rolled–within the machine. Rather, a pre-made, refrigerated Evol burrito appears to be steamed inside, with toppings, like sour cream and guacamole, dispensed on the side.

While Burritobox’s flavor and customization won’t compete with Chipotle any time soon, the fact that a Burritobox could land almost anywhere and serve food autonomously is a huge strategic asset in building the brand. Just look at how Redbox, and its self-serve DVD kiosks, has gained a foothold in the movie rental market. Redbox now has 42,000 rental locations (which dwarfs Blockbuster’s 9,000 brick and mortar stores that existed at the company’s peak)–and this success is happening at a time when streaming movies and entertainment over the Internet means you don’t have to drive somewhere to rent a physical disc at all.

Omnipresent organic burrito access is only part of the value offered by Burritobox. The other core component actually starts in the line with a clever piece of experience design: the box provides those waiting with free Wi-Fi. Then, after ordering a burrito, a music video or movie trailer plays to entertain you (likely, an additional revenue stream for the company)–which I imagine would be either a quick way to kill a minute-long burrito wait, or an agonizingly long Justin Bieber tribute, depending on your perspective.

Burritobox is the first of several concepts that will be launched in the coming year by The Box Brands, a California startup that’s spent the last three years developing a series of Redbox-esque kiosks aimed at new markets. Koci declined to get into specifics as to just what these machines will do, but it seems reasonable to suspect that any popular, steamable fast food product is on the table for now. And for tomorrow? Koci spares no ambition when discussing next steps.

“Automated hot meals have a large implication for humanity–could you imagine developing a device similar to the Star Trek replicator?” Koci asks. “If we don’t end up developing it, we will at least be the stepping stone for someone developing a device like that, which will allow space ships to feed astronauts when traveling large distances, and also be able to end world hunger, which is a big personal goal of ours.”

Burritobox has launched its first kiosks in L.A., focusing on high-end gas stations.


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.