As Illinois debates and other states act on raising minimum wage levels, the future of an iconic American phrase hangs in the balance.


East Peoria officials announced last week that a new Wendy’s restaurant will rise by fall on the site of the now-demolished old City Hall at South Main and West Washington streets.


At question is whether its employees will inquire, “Is that for here or to go?”


The Ohio-based fast-food company recently announced plans to add self-ordering kiosks to at least 1,000 of its outlets by the year’s end, enabling diners to order without help from behind-the-counter workers. Other burger and similar chains, most notably McDonald’s, are also following the trend.


Officials with Parco Ltd. of Dubuque, Iowa, which holds the franchise for the new EP Wendy’s, did not reply to several inquiries regarding whether it will install  kiosks, at a cost of about $15,000 each, in the new restaurant. Ty Livingston, the city’s development director, said Tuesday he had not been informed of plans for them.


Restaurant kiosks are relatively new to the industry. Several area casual eateries, including Chili’s in East Peoria, let customers pay their bills or order limited items from their tables through “Ziosks,” said Chili’s manager Mike Stalter.


The devices “give customers the freedom to pay at their own pace,” he said. “They’re pretty well known.”


Fast-food kiosks, however, allows customers to order even customized food — having it their way — without the need to wait in line and interact with busy order takers. McDonald’s models lets customers request delivery of their orders to their tables.


Industry spokesmen say the growing use of automation is not aimed solely at replacing employees. They cite studies showing younger adults often prefer the new technology.


Wendy’s chief executive Robert Wright, however, told investors in March that the mass introduction of kiosks will address labor costs that rose 5 percent last year as a number of states, including Alaska, California and Massachusetts, raised their minimum wages. States with raised minimums, mostly on each coast, are seeing the first wave of self-ordering automation.


In Illinois, a bill endorsing an eventual $15 minimum wage passed a General Assembly committee in April but has not yet reached the desk of Gov. Rauner, who is expected to oppose it.


With or without kiosks, the new EP Wendy’s will join a downtown area packed with fast-food and casual dining outlets, including in the Levee District, that Livingston said are doing well.


Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin