Like robots, AI and augmented reality take over restaurants

Robots in the kitchen and drones in the sky may still seem like innovative technologies to many operators. But droids, drones and augmented reality are poised to emerge from the testing phase and become essential technology solutions for restaurant operators.

David Bloom, head of operations and development for Capriotti’s Sub Shops and Wing Zone, and Bernard Acoca, CEO of El Pollo Loco, discussed Informa’s CREATE live discussion webinar on Tuesday on how to invest in automated technology Free people could be the key to meeting the demand needs of the restaurant’s current customer.

Capriotti and Wing Zone, for example, began testing robotic cooking systems and are making the move not only to cashless operations but also to ATMs.

“All this technology, although it is in the early stages, exists; this is not a technology yet to come, “Bloom said.” Therefore, AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles and facial recognition technologies exist today. What is different today is that we are in the age of convergence: suddenly, you can get all these technologies to talk to each other in real time ”.

But restaurants aren’t just testing these drones and robots because they’re innovative experiences – they can help reinforce operational weaknesses, such as the current work pains in the restaurant industry:

“We’re testing home robotics and artificial intelligence to be more efficient, not only reducing a few hours of work, but really eliminating whole bodies from the operation,” Bloom said. “Just finding people to run our restaurants will be a growing challenge, no matter how willing you are to pay them. And consumers will hope to get what they want, whenever they want. This means 24-hour food service operations delivered by autonomous vehicles with much lower delivery costs than at present. “

Acoca adopts a similar approach to technology investment based on the first client in El Pollo Loco. While perfecting technologies such as loyalty program, drive-thru and sidewalk pickup have become the default “hanging fruits” by default in a post-pandemic world, El Pollo Loco makes its investment a step more on testing drone delivery. They recently launched, which promotes the brand’s first “pilot food delivery program with drones,” and is now testing it in the Los Angeles area.

“We really enjoyed testing the limits of that,” Acoca said. “One of the main reasons we decided to explore it is because we find that the cost of shipping is about 30% less expensive than traditional third-party delivery aggregators charge. We are always looking for naturally less expensive ways of shipping. provide our customers with a delivery service “.

Pollo Loco also found that drone delivery could be a new way to reward loyalty:

“Our loyalty program has been our true focus in terms of delivering unique digital experiences, which can be from drone deliveries, that we just started testing and providing as a service to our local rewards loyalty members more functions like picking up on the sidewalk with GPS, you have to download our app to take advantage of this functionality “.

Speed ​​and personalization seem to be the name of the game for both El Pollo Loco and Capriotti customers. Pollo Loco is testing license plate recognition technology to provide more personalized options for loyal customers when they arrive at the drive-thru. Capriotti’s now also has AI capability to receive orders over the phone. All of these features are designed to enhance and not replace the traditional restaurant experience.

“AI is just a ubiquitous term that applies to everything you do that makes you better, whether it’s managing the grill, working the fryers, or coordinating with the apps, AI is machine learning […] and training you and your team to improve, “Bloomj said.” It’s not this magic silver bullet that fixes everything, it just improves what you’re already doing. “

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find it on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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