If you’re in the restaurant business and haven’t invested in AI and/or automation yet, you’re behind the times. Even though most food delivery is still done by humans, and the sidewalks aren’t (yet) filled with autonomous robots delivering our lunches, or even our dry cleaning, the industry is moving towards a more automated space.
This month, we’ve seen a lot of movement in the peopleless services space, from Uber announcing an automated delivery pilot program, to Jack in the Box partnering with Miso Robotics, and Jersey Mike gearing up to deliver submarines via the Flytrex drone.
Aside from the robots, the biggest news came with Toast’s new all-in-one point-of-sale solution specifically designed for quick service restaurants.
Tech Tracker summarizes what’s happening in the technology sector of the restaurant industry, including news from restaurants, suppliers, digital platforms and third-party delivery companies. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know and why:
Toast launches an all-in-one solution for quick-service restaurants
Toast announced in April the launch of an all-in-one point-of-sale solution specifically designed for quick service restaurants. Toast for Quick Service basically upgrades and changes the usual interface of Toast POS. New and improved features for quick-service restaurants include mobile ordering and payment, kiosks, the Toast TakeOut app for mobile ordering for restaurants, and SMS communications.
The service also unifies all order channels in one place to facilitate consolidation between internal and third-party orders. A Performance Center feature lets restaurants know which items are selling best and provides performance-based recommendations to increase profits.
Lunchbox and Nextbite both announce delivery consolidation solutions
As restaurant technology stacks and omnichannel capabilities expand, one of the biggest questions remains: how do you get all those bells and whistles to speak the same language? Tech companies are on board, and Lunchbox and Nextbite recently announced solutions to improve the consolidation and integration of offsite capabilities.
The first is Lunchbox, which just launched Lunchbox Rails: an integration system that can consolidate internal and third-party delivery orders into the restaurant’s POS system. Lunchbox charges restaurants a flat rate for this service, which also allows operators to change menus and opening hours across platforms, set unique prices on different delivery services, and limit deliveries on a store-by-store basis.
“Restaurants need to make quick changes, track orders and manage everything in one place,” Nabeel Alamgir, co-founder and CEO of Lunchbox said in a statement. “We’ve created the pain-relieving solution that all operators are experiencing today by streamlining store operations and reducing tablet hell.”
Nextbite Reconciliation launched a consolidation solution this month that tackles the financial services side of third-party delivery. The solution takes all of an operator’s delivery service transactions and consolidates them into one unified financial statement.
“With our new solution, restaurants have full visibility into a restaurant’s off-site activities, and it eliminates the possibility of manual error, providing high degrees of accuracy for aggregating and reconciling large volumes of DSP transactions. “said Alex Canter, CEO of Nextbite. in a report.
Uber is testing robot delivery in Los Angeles
Uber announced a host of new products and services this week, the most notable of which are two pilot robot delivery programs in Los Angeles. The program will include two AI vehicles: a sidewalk robot in partnership with Serve Robotics for short distances, and autonomous electric vehicles from Motional that can handle longer distance deliveries. If all goes well, the pilot could expand to other Uber regions.
Other announcements included ordering food pickup at select sports stadiums, integrating voice control with Google Assistant, and new benefits for the third-party delivery service’s premium membership program.
Miso Robotics and Flytrex drones announce new partnerships with operators
Miso Robotics announced its latest operator partnership this month with Jack in the Box, which will begin deploying Flippy 2 (the robotic fry cooker) and Sippy, the automated drink dispenser at one of its standalone locations.
Jack in the Box has decided to move forward with this partnership as labor issues persist.
“This collaboration with Miso Robotics is a stepping stone for our back-of-the-house restaurant operations,” Jack in the Box COO Tony Darden said in a statement. “We are confident that this technology will be the ideal solution to support our growing business needs with the intention of positively impacting our operations while promoting the safety and comfort of our team members.
In other automation news, Jersey Mike’s is now delivering sandwiches by drone in partnership with Flytrex in Holly Springs, NC. Flytrex will be able to use drone technology to deliver food in less than five minutes. Previously, Flytrex announced a partnership with Brinker.
“Our goal is to ensure that our customers get their authentic Jersey Mike sub sandwiches the way they want, when they want,” Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems CIO Scott Scherer said in a statement.
Alfred the robot sous chef prepares salads and bowls at Bonapita
Robots perform all sorts of tasks in the front and back of the house, and now Dexai Robotics has launched Alfred, the Robotic Sous Chef, which uses artificial intelligence to cook quick-service restaurant recipes.
Alfred made his Bonapita debut in West Roxbury, Mass. Where he will assemble salads and bowls. Alfred is also partnering with the Department of Defense to install 10 robots at military bases across the country.
“Robots have come a long way since the days of massive, multimillion-dollar machines and complex, purpose-built facilities,” Dexai CEO David Johnson said in a statement. “Not only is Alfred compact and easy to install, but the cost also varies with your business.
Chipotle launches $50 million venture capital fund for tech startups
Chipotle Mexican Grill is going the business incubator route to support tech startups in the industry. Chipotle announced in April a $50 million venture capital fund designed to help launch “strategically aligned” technology companies that will partner with Chipotle.
Cultivate Next will be solely funded by Chipotle and will support early-stage investments in companies from seed-stage to Series B. Chipotle has been a technology leader in recent years, including investing in Nuro, the vehicle company of driverless delivery.
“We are exploring investments in emerging innovation that will enhance the experience of our employees and customers, and will most likely revolutionize the restaurant industry,” said Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer, in a statement. .
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]
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