Operations

Robert Chicken to bring Korean-style chicken fried by robots to New York City

Flagship is designed to showcase the robotic technology, which Seoul-based startup Robo Arete hopes to bring to U.S. restaurants.
Robert Chicken
Korean fried chicken will be at the core of the menu at Robert Chicken./Photo courtesy of Robo Arete.

The parade of robots continues with the planned arrival in New York City this summer of Robert Chicken, a Korean fried chicken concept that promises to liberate humans from manual labor in kitchens.

Scheduled to open in July, the 8,400-square-foot flagship store in Manhattan will be operated by Korean food tech startup Robo Arete, which boasts a “next-gen, all-in-one advanced solution” that can cook more than 50 chickens per hour, which officials say can cut labor costs in half.

Robo Arete owns six Robert Chicken locations in Seoul, and the chain has two franchised stores there as well. In addition to fried chicken, the menu will include traditional Korean bunsik (snacks) that might be found on the streets of Seoul.

Yongsuk Choi, a spokesperson for the company, in an email said, “The concept of our restaurant is to provide the most unique, original and futuristic Korean pojangmacha experience,” referring to the often-tent-covered street stalls offering all sorts of tasty bites and drinks.

In addition, the new Robert Chicken will have two robotic bartenders designed to prepare drinks and offer entertainment.

The goal is to introduce the technology to the U.S. market, though Choi said the robotic fryer is being improved so it can take on the breading, battering and marinating process, as well as frying. Using the system, a restaurant could be operated by a single laborer, Choi said.

Robert Chicken robotic arm

The New York unit will have three robotic chicken fryers./Photo courtesy of Robo Arete.

“Once we have established our brand, Robert Chicken, in the market, we plan to introduce our advanced technology to global F&B franchises, such as McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King,” Choi wrote. “The restaurant industry needs change, and we can provide solutions.”

Robo Arete, however, will be joining an increasingly crowded world of restaurant robots promising to reduce the need for human workers.

Chains from White Castle to Chipotle are using or testing robotic fryers to relieve workers of what is often seen as an undesirable chore: standing over a hot fryer. And automated kitchen systems run from pizza makers to digital makelines being tested by Sweetgreen and Chipotle this year.

And the Korean-born fried chicken chain Bb.q Chicken is testing a new labor-efficient format dubbed the Bb.q Smart Kitchen, or BSK, which eliminates the need for consumer-facing workers. At locations in Korea, Bb.q Chicken has some units with robotic fryers.

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