Restoration technologies are more diverse than ever, reaching the back office and even the roads. We’ve found five cool technologies taking root in progressive restaurants today.
Restoration technology has developed in recent years. Apps are more intuitive than ever, websites are smarter, and technology can make hiring and retention, delivery, and operations easier. The costs of these emerging technologies make them more accessible to independent restaurants and small chains, which are competing with the big guys for more than just customers. Technology, it seems, is making the restaurant industry bigger and better.
Here are five emerging technologies I found at the National Restaurant Association Show in May:
- Robotics. Cheerful little robots zigzagged and dodged the attendees with their adorable little eyes and cheerful beeps. Libby Wang, who handles global marketing for Segway Robotics, said the robot’s main job is to serve food from the kitchen to the table and haul dirty dishes. “They can help restaurant owners deal with labor shortages as well as improve efficiency,” Wang said.
Rocky Mountain Robotech shows off one of the robots on the NRA show floor.
There is also software for robots that takes them beyond factory settings. John Wang (no relation to Libby Wang) of Rocky Mountain Robotech said his company’s software turns a robotic waiter into a hostess, runner, waiter and host.
“It saves time and avoids mistakes because everything is displayed,” Wang said, “so you know which tables have been ordered.” Payment is made by QR code or credit card.
If the restaurant is not busy, the robot will sit near the front door waiting for the next customer to enter the restaurant.
- Hiring and onboarding technology. I stopped by the Restaurant365 booth to introduce myself, as they will be the featured sponsor of Pizza Marketplace’s Virtual Pizza Leadership Summit on July 27 (click here for more information and to register). I spoke to Mark Calvillo, Senior Vice President, Product, who introduced me to their HIRE program, an easy-to-use applicant tracking system for potential employees.
“Due to labor shortages in the industry, restaurants are trying to attract as many new employees as possible and retain them,” Calvillo said. “The HIRE product allows them to do that very quickly. It’s mobile-friendly.”
The entire hiring process can be done via text messaging, as it can be difficult to get candidates to sit down, fill out a paper application, and be interviewed. The HIRE product may also combine applications from online job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn.
“It makes this whole process really, really streamlined,” Calvillo said.
HIRE also works with Restaurant365 proprietary and HR products.
- QR codes for menus and payment. Sunday is just one of the companies using QR codes for orders and payments. Reps said QR codes can save at least 15 minutes each round, increase check averages by 12%, increase tip averages by 18%, and save servers 30% more time. “Since the first day of Sunday, we have been obsessed with one thing, that customers benefit 100% of their time on site, and that restaurateurs can concentrate on their primary mission, pampering their customers”, Christine de Wendel, co – founder of Sunday, says. “After giving back 15 minutes of their time to customers and employees of traditional catering, we now also offer it to bars, food courts, fast food and festivals. From now on, no one will be queuing at the counter for 20 minutes to order a drink or a meal. This is an absolute game-changer for the sector, for the customers and for the staff.”
- The back of the house finally gets its due. The front of the house, the one that is visible to the public, remains shiny and full of the latest technology while the back of the house is jammed with scruffy equipment doing its job without fanfare. Coca-Cola has created a version of its popular front-of-house soda dispenser for back-of-house use – the Freestyle 8100, designed specifically for the crew duty occasion, which has made his NRA Show debut.
The Freestyle 89100 is designed for the back of the house. Photo by Networld Media Group.
Coca-Cola interviewed restaurant teams, managers, directors and executives to see what team members wanted in a team-service dispenser. The result is an intuitive machine that pairs with iPhone and iPad and offers over 200 beverage selections, including over 100 low-calorie choices and 90 caffeine-free choices.
“With Freestyle 8100, we wanted to not only deliver a revolutionary beverage experience for diners, but also make it easier for catering teams,” said Ren Powell, director of platform innovation for Coca-Cola Freestyle. , in a press release issued to the media at the show. “New features and technology will make pouring the right drink – a time-consuming task for teams who are busier than ever due to labor shortages and increased drive-thru traffic – infinitely simpler, which means diners get their favorite Coca-Cola drink at the drive-thru even faster.”
- Cool delivery options. The bright red Solo Fleet electric vehicle caught everyone’s attention at the show for one main reason: the car has three wheels and can hold up to 12 delivery boxes. Justin Hazelton, fleet sales consultant for parent company ElectraMeccanica, said the company is spotlighting the all-electric Solo cargo edition. This is a 100 mile range vehicle (on a full charge) that is street and highway legal in the United States. Top speed is 80 mph. It will come with all the standard comforts of a normal vehicle, such as air conditioning, heated seats, Bluetooth and reversing cameras.
With a loading section at the rear of the vehicle with space for boxes, such as 12 pizza boxes, it is optimal for delivery. Restaurants pay fees for third-party delivery apps.
“Where we see ourselves is between micro-mobility and sedans,” Hazelton said. “It’s a very underserved niche in the market right now.”
At the NRA show, our sister publication Fastcasual.com announced the winners of the Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers awards. Click here to discover the winners.
Mandy Loup Detwiler
Mandy Wolf Detwiler is Managing Editor of Networld Media Group and Site Editor for PizzaMarketplace.com and QSRweb.com. She has over 20 years of experience in food, people and places.
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