Robots as labor solutions
We’ve been talking about robotic kitchen employees and delivery vehicles for several years now, but they still have not become mainstream yet. Both AF&Co restaurant marketing company and Baum & Whiteman restaurant consultants believe that the days of robots becoming a mainstay in kitchens are nearly upon us. AF&Co points to robotic bartenders as the next big AI foodservice investment, particularly at large events like festivals and sporting events. Baum & Whiteman believes that with labor challenges still plaguing the industry, bots like Flippy the Robot from Miso Robotics could be a go-to solution, with other international robotics companies like SavorEats’ robot that 3D prints and cooks plant-based burgers.
The ghost kitchen space gets crowded
Ghost kitchens were (and still are) one of the buzziest restaurant industry trends, but with nearly every single major restaurant chain (and newer virtual restaurant companies like C3) rushing to invest in virtual restaurants, will the bubble pop? Baum & Whiteman predicts that the ghost kitchen space is about to get quite competitive, and there could be a point of oversaturation, which the firm compares to the dot-com boom of the ’90s. Baum & Whiteman predicts consolidations and mergers over the next two years between the major ghost kitchen players because eventually the virtual whitespace will be gobbled up.
Technology-enabled pickup solutions
This past year we’ve seen Starbucks launch a new pickup order board for its new pickup store in New York City in collaboration with Amazon Go, which will eliminate some congestion and confusion when a long line of customers come in to grab their pre-ordered morning latte. Taco Bell also launched pickup cubbies for its new flagship store in New York City this year. Senior editor Joanna Fantozzi predicts more cubbies and pickup order boards, but with temperature controls to keep food fresh.
Quality control technology for off-premises food
Swedish company Dometic launched a temperature-controlled delivery box that keeps hot food hot and cold food cold as food is in route for delivery. With complaints growing over soggy food, cold meals and food of variant temperatures being placed near each other, Fantozzi said to expect packaging technology to be prioritized to keep the growing percentage of restaurant delivery customers satisfied and not dealing with cold, mushy french fries.