Today at Tesla Investor Day, the automaker showed off a fresh teaser of a high-tech eating experience at Supercharging stations that’s heavy on exterior lighting, and features a futuristic jet-age look. It’s called a diner. Yes, Tesla released a new rendering of its own branded diner built around a Supercharger station and we want to talk about it because it feels like a strange direction for an automaker to go in.
The Tesla diner isn’t an entirely new concept. Electrek previously reported that Elon Musk has previously mentioned a desire to build a Tesla diner in 2018, that Tesla applied for a permit to build a diner in Santa Monica, Calif. back in 2018, and that fan renderings of a Tesla diner have surfaced previously. However, this is a new official rendering of the diner concept that gives us a pretty good look at what Tesla is planning.
If pricey electric cars and bad diner food seems like an odd pairing to you, you aren’t the only one. Maybe this would be a different sort of diner that serves protein bowls, fiber-rich smoothies, and SaaS (Sandwiches as a Service), although I’m hoping it could serve up incredibly greasy plates. Everything in moderation including moderation, right? I’d naturally assume that a potential Tesla diner would run 24/7 like Waffle House, which would bring an entirely new option for late nights out. Imagine plugging your car in, walking into a Tesla diner, only to be surrounded by stoned college students.
Mind you, the idea of having a place to eat while charging an electric car isn’t anything new. Taco Bell has talked about DC fast charging at its franchises, and Starbucks plans to run a DC fast charging pilot network with Volvo. Hell, Subway is planning what it calls an EV Charging Oasis with a park, a playground, and the option to Eat Fresh. I probably wouldn’t be building playgrounds if my company had the same previous spokesperson as Subway, but that’s just me.
Restaurants with charging stations on-site sound like a great idea, but building a restaurant chain is so much harder than building a charging network. To start, charging stations don’t need to be staffed, but restaurants absolutely do. In addition, there’s a whole restaurant supply chain to set up from raw ingredients to packaging to waste management. Once charging stations are in, they just require maintenance. Oh, and there’s the whole constructing buildings thing to worry about with restaurants. It’s no wonder what many restaurants simply don’t survive in the long run.
The smart way for Tesla to do something like this would be to link up with an existing restaurant chain. Sonic would be a damn near perfect partner as Tesla could install infrastructure right next to menu boards. Roll up, plug in, grab a highly unusual milkshake if it’s summer, suck on a chili dog like one of the protagonists in that John Cougar song, and be back on the road in 20 minutes after doing unspeakable things to a glizzy. If you find that mental image awful, a hamburger is also an option.
There’s no firm time frame for a Tesla diner nor explicit word that it’s happening, but it appears to be a possibility in Tesla’s future. We might just never hear about it again, which might be for the best. It’s the sort of zany side-quest that seems high-risk and low-reward. Anyway, what do you reckon would be on the menu at a Tesla diner?
(Photo credits: Tesla, Subway, Sonic Drive-In)
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I’m wondering if this announcement has anything to do with this: https://www.reddit.com/r/BoringCompany/comments/10a3xc8/tbc_liquor_license_notice_in_bastrop/
Apparently The Musk Companies have a whole lil’ neighborhood planned out in Bastrop, and an app for a liquor license would suggest some kind of restaurant or store situation.
The render shows a line of people waiting to get seating in the diner (which doesn’t seem idyllic) — but yet, most of the seats aren’t occupied.
Honestly, this makes a ton of sense. The best places to charge a car are ones where you’re gonna be parked a while anyway, so a restaurant makes tons of sense. Hell, a lot of the first superchargers here were at Collin Street Bakeries for just that reason: folks need to stop to eat, and folks need to stop to charge, so doing both at once makes sense. (Also, them cookies.)
I’m not sure I trust Melon not to give me food poisoning after cutting corners on anti-dysentery wash or whatever, but the concept itself is solid.
I don’t see it as all that off-brand for Tesla. I’m no Tesla fanboy, but it seems like their whole M.O. has been to listen to the objections regarding EVs and prove that they are surmountable.
When they started out, people complained that electric cars were slow and impractical. “Look at this Rav4 that takes forever to charge and only gets 40 miles of range once it’s topped up!” they said. So Tesla jammed a bunch of laptop batteries into a Lotus Elise to show: “Look! It doesn’t have to be that way!”
“Fine,” people said. “But that’s a niche sports car. You can’t do it with a practical sedan!” And Tesla came out with the Model S — a no-kidding car that could be used everyday by normal people. They developed “Superchargers” so that you don’t have to wait around overnight to top off the tank.
“But it’s so expensive! Electric cars will never be affordable!” people cried. And Tesla came out with the $30k Model 3…. er… what is it now, $50k? Ok, they haven’t always been successful, but I think that Tesla has a track record of focusing on big objections and at least attempting to overcome them.
Now a big objection to electric vehicles is: “What am I supposed to do while I wait for it to charge?” Sure, many EV drivers can charge at home, but that limits the utility of the vehicles and makes long distances difficult. If you have to charge while away from home, it’s more time-consuming than gassing up an ICE car. Nobody wants to dick around at a gas station for half an hour or more, so it makes sense to make charging stations destinations themselves. Grocery stores, movie theaters, gyms, and yes restaurants are all places where people spend more time. Colocate the chargers at places like that, and you EV drivers don’t have to go out of their way to fuel up.
But I agree that some variety would be beneficial. If the diner is the only thing in the vicinity of a charger, it would limit appeal. Instead, I’d suggest plopping the chargers in the center of a “hub” with multiple businesses around them on “spokes”. Sure, have a diner, but also put a small gym, a coffee shop, a small grocery, heck even a library. And don’t try to run all of those disparate businesses by the same company — instead, lease out space to established companies who already know what they’re doing in their lines of business.
Still, I think that Tesla’s diner idea is a good start that will ultimately expand once the “proof of concept” phase has been completed.
Sounds like you’ve reinvented the mini mall.
Yeah, pretty much.
But instead of a parking lot full of cars just parked, an array of EV chargers. And instead of being located in suburban areas (where local residents probably just charge at home), place them along highways so that they can be used by drivers traveling farther than a single charge will last.
Sooooo, what’s up with the gigantic horse and rider in the background?
Is it also a drive-in theater?
Actually, I believe it is. Other renders show the screen more clearly. (I don’t think it’s a Marlboro billboard, in any event.)
Musk just wants to own restaurants so he can hire a staff less likely to unionize than factory workers.
Screw this guy and his bad ideas. The only thing going for this venture is the Tesla branding – and that is becoming less valuable by the month.
Why not malls? Recently-abandoned malls are everywhere. They have tons of indoor space. They have a set floor plan that could easily be mapped and driven by an autonomous vehicle. Turn an anchor store into a co-working space, turn another anchor into a service center and another into a showroom. Have a few vendors in the food court and offer some of the store fronts as rentals.
The restaurant business is risky. The landlord business is not… unless Elon buys property the way he bought Twitter.
Ignoring everything else, I do like the look of that building. It’s got a sort-of retro-futurism thing going on. Very much up my street.
Although I can only assume that on the side we can’t see there’s space for an actual kitchen and storage (etc.), because I can’t see where else they’d go.
It looks the same as any concept drawing for an imaginary restaurant since the 60’s.
If they ever build one, it will just look like a Johnny Rockets with a parking lot full of chargers. . . which could be accomplished simply by putting chargers at a Johnny Rockets.
“roll up, plug in, grab a highly unusual milkshake if it’s summer”
hold up, am i weird for drinking milkshakes all year round and not just in summer? milkshakes are fantastic any time of year
My personal rule used to be that I didn’t eat ice cream or ice cream adjacent products in months with an R in them. With global warming, I’ve become a little more lax, and now I’m open to having a frozen treat any time during baseball season.
Due to the seasonality of pumpkin spice I probably consume more shakes in Fall/Winter than in Summer.
“Everything in moderation including moderation, right?”
This is absolute literary gold.
I have a rule for Fridays… We tend to moderate our habits throughout the week. When I get to Friday, I have no food limits. I can eat whatever I want. This usually involves one goal, the bacon trifecta… each meal must have bacon. Can’t do this every day, but Friday….. oh Friday, you are my bacon day.
The handful of times a year when we take a long trip we’ll pick our charging stops based on what is near it to “do”. Eat, shop, hang out, whatever. You already have to stop with the family every three hours to eat or use a bathroom so having those options handy by a charging stop is just good business.
Now, it has to be something you WANT to stop for, so that’s still a question in this model.
Well, it IS Tesla, so I read it as “braindead” at first…
… But then I saw it wasn’t a Jason article 😉
“Anyway, what do you reckon would be on the menu at a Tesla diner?”
$1000 reservations for a table
Free lifetime refills of smug
“Fix it in post” liposuction
I’m picturing a minimalist cheese burger. Available only at the Full Service Diner, it’s really just a single thin slice of Velveeta on a bamboo plate. It will cost twice as much as a comparable burger anywhere else, but a customer can order it via their dash screen on the way and it will be served to them when Elon is damn well ready.
The waitress, Ethyl, will serve you electric eel, potato batteries, donut spares, Pinto beans, radiatore and wagon wheel pasta, and for dessert, road toad a la mode.
Of course, all of that Tesla Diner food will give you gas.
A collection of dishes popular in Germany during the 1930’s, the deep south in the early 1800’s, and for “definitely legitimate reasons” anyone non-white won’t be able to order anything.
Probably some version of „Eintopf“ or stew. The Nazis promoted those instead of the traditional Sunday roast („Eintopfsonntag“), so people would use up leftovers, and donate the savings to the Cause.
You are grotesque.
I’m surprised things like this don’t already exist. A restaurant, now add a store too 😀
Even gas stations don’t make their money from gas. The real profit comes from the store, restaurant, mechanic shop, etc.
I can understand the concept but note that the majority of new restaurant fail very quickly and there are literally dozens of existing reasonably reliable fast food places that could add in fast charging. Plus, I don’t want fast food workers have to sleep at work due to the intensity of flipping burgers.
Hot dogs cooked with Tesla flamethrowers?
“Sever my leg, it’s the greatest day? I’m not sure I understand the transaction that’s taking place here.”
“Sever my leg, it’s the greatest day? I’m not sure I understand the transaction that’s taking place here.”
I don’t know how I posted a duplicate, but I assume that Strong Bad found the prototype for this restaurant years ago.
The Tesla diners were fully automated? Maybe even old fashioned art deco futuristic retro Automat, where you swipe a card, open a door, and take out a dish?
I honestly don’t know why automats even went away in the first place, everybody loved Horn & Hardart
If it could be done it would be very on-brand….assuming they could do it without screwing up. See every FSD joke ever
Full Self Dining. Voice command to take your order, robot walks the order to your car, with a 60/40 chance they’ll dump it all into your face through the open window unless you’re vigilant and ready to take control of the window switch at a moment’s notice.
Hahahahahaa! Full Self Dining.
I picture the Homer scene where he’s being forcefed donuts with the machine trying to determine if you are satiated yet
“Open butthole.” Robot server gives you a plate of habanero colon blow.
Pretty sure that’s just Trader Joe’s high fiber cereal topped with Dave’s Insanity sauce. Yum!
Warning: Do not eat before a long drive.
I, for one, welcomed our new automat overlords and am also saddened by their disappearance, especially during the past few years.
For years I’ve been seeing Tesla charging stations in the parking lots of freeway-adjacent fast food places. It makes sense. How are you going to kill time while waiting for the electrons? Use the restroom and wifi, grab a burger or taco or whatever.
read a book I suppose, you can do all you mention and then some in the span of time even a decent level three requires
My Friend chooses charging spots that have runner friendly areas around it and then gets some exercise.
Obviously the next step is pedal powered charging stations.
Tesla Fitness coming up in 3…2….1….
F’reals. A quick charge, a poop and a coffee is pretty much the ideal situation.
Don’t like Tesla, like ev chargers at restaurants.
Anyway off topic, cool to hear your and autotopian mentioned on marketplace
Starting a restaurant seems deceptively simple. Even people who have enough modesty to recognize they won’t succeed at everything often make the mistake of thinking it is easy.
Of course, the built-in fans and potential captive audience give this one a bit of a leg up, but it’s still a different challenge. Expect everything to be microwaved or some other very simple preparation and a high risk of expired food. Not accounting for spoiled food would be a very easy mistake to make and minimizing preparation reduces staffing requirements if you just assume everyone eats it anyway.
No, the entire operation will be autonomous restaurant 2.0. AI servers, Incorrectly cooked food because the software update was installed late. Panel gaps in the chairs and tables. Free twitter accounts with every lunch purchase over $500.00 (which will be a lukewarm almond milk decaf latte, small salad and a veggie hotdog in a rocket shaped bun.). Can’t wait to drive right past it.
Maybe they could partner with Soylent to serve their delightfully bland, nutrient rich meal replacements.
Nope. It’s a Ludicrous Burger for me!
That’s what laid off employees are for and THAT is why folks need to actually read their damn contracts.
Something like FSC? Full Self Cooking
I see this all the time in my line of work. People come in saying that their friends and family all like their cooking so they thought they would open a restaurant.
When you start asking questions like “How many meals per day will you serve?” and “Who will be picking up the dumpster?” and “What contractor will service your grease trap?” they give you a blank stare.
How can you open a business without knowing what revenue you need to cover the expenses – such as meals per day? Don’t you have a business plan? They find a cheap rental space, usually something recently occupied by a previous restaurant that failed after 6 months, and start fixing it up with their own money. Then it turns out that the location sucks, or they can’t advertise effectively, or the food just doesn’t have a broad appeal. And the manhours needed to make it work! All the prep time involved in making sure an order can be prepared in less than half an hour!
Hoo boy, restaurants are high effort and low margin no matter who runs them or what amenities they offer.
Nevermind paying the staff required to cook, clean, serve and prep – just FINDING that staff is still a huge challenge right now. You can do it with fewer people, but not well and not for long.
Level two of this are people who see food trucks and imagine themselves in that exciting life! They don’t have a clue about what it takes to make that work. I start by asking if they have a commissary.
I never understood the popularity of food trucks for the customer. You pay the full price of a sit down meal served on disposable paper and plastic with none of the amenities AND they expect a ¥€¢$£ tip?
The popularity for the owners sure; Low to no rent, relatively low buy in, no wait staff, almost no dishwashing, no eating area cleanup, low to no utility bills and yet nobody blinks when you charge full sit down brick and mortar prices AND expect a ¥€¢$£ tip.
Yeah, the venn diagram of people who want to open restaurants because they like to cook and people who know what running a restaurant entails is almost two separate circles.
I knew someone who thought she had it all figured out and that the simple solution was a hot dog stand. She figured she’d just roll on into Pike’s Place Market and make good money. She had not considered that there would still be licensing, the significant competition there, or even how to roughly estimate how many hot dogs she would need. She also hadn’t thought of the hot dogs as something that spoiled, so she thought she could just buy a ton, throw them in, and not worry about it. I don’t know if I successfully talked her out of it, but I definitely would not buy one if I saw her running a stand.
This guy seems to have figured it out:
9 years later, through the pandemic and still in business. He must be doing something right.
Giggling like a kid at the SaaS reference:
“Please deposit twenty-five (dollars) to continue your lunch”
You have to pay again after you eat, or it’ll either come out the other end lightning-fast and with unpredictable timing, or not at all and block everything behind it.
“Anyway, what do you reckon would be on the menu at a Tesla diner?”
Comm-Tweets (house-made pommes frites)
Fried Musky Brains
Bourbon and Bongwater
And your choice of Chocolate, Vanilla, or S3XY ice cream