Elon Musk appears to be planning a restaurant or restaurant chain as his next entrepreneurial venture. Last week, Tesla filed an application to trademark its "T" logo with the identification "restaurant services, pop-up restaurant services, self-service restaurant services, takeout restaurant services," along with filings for the word Tesla and its distinctive lettering of the word. The top-selling electric car maker in the U.S. just took a first step toward launching a fast-food business.
It's a fantastic idea, one Musk tweeted about three years ago. At the time, he said he would put an "old school drive-in, roller skates & rock restaurant" at a planned Tesla Supercharger station near 405 in Los Angeles. The company even filed a building permit for the project. But then, as Electrek reported, not much more happened. This year, the company applied for another building permit, this time with no restaurant included. Observers concluded that the "old school drive-in" wasn't happening after all. Last week's trademark application suggests that the idea is still under consideration at the very least. So, if you're a Tesla driver, you may get to pull into a Supercharger station and have someone serve you a milkshake someday soon.
Whether or not you like the '50s diner idea, car chargers and restaurants are a natural combination, so much so that Tesla has put many of its Supercharger stations near restaurants. Electric car drivers know why. Although most of us can charge at home most of the time, if you're on a long trip or for some reason started out with a low battery, you will have to stop and get a charge somewhere, a process that can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how big your battery is and how much juice you need. This is why the charging standard CHAdeMO, used by Asian carmakers, is a pun on the Japanese phrase "Ocha demo ikagadesu ka," which means "Shall we have a cup of tea?"
"100 best movie clips"
Since you have to sit and wait for your car to charge anyhow, it makes sense to fuel yourself at the same time as your vehicle. The roller skating servers would provide some entertainment, which drivers alone in their cars might appreciate. Musk has said that the new restaurant will also have movie screens running "100 best movie clips," further staving off boredom. He also said Tesla drivers would be able to order directly from the touchscreens in their cars.
Of course, Tesla has zero experience in the restaurant business. As some observers have noted, the company could easily solve that problem by partnering with a restaurant company. Then again, Musk has proved over and over how quickly he can learn an industry, even one as tough as rocket science. Getting people to serve French fries on roller skates should be considerably easier than getting them to Mars, after all.
It remains to be seen when and whether Tesla goes forward with this plan, and how long it takes to get the first Supercharger-diner up and running. I hope it's soon, and that the concept is a success so that other electric car companies copy the idea. A couple of years from now, I'd love to pull up to a charger and have someone roll up to my car window with a grilled cheese sandwich and fries.