3 new limited-service concepts embracing next-level tech
As consumers grow increasingly familiar with tech-heavy restaurant interactions—and operators look for labor-saving hacks—restaurateurs are getting bolder with kiosk-based ordering, delivery-only concepts and even robot cooks.
In April, chef Daniel Boulud and a team of recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates opened Spyce Kitchen, a fully automated fast-casual restaurant that serves bowl-based entrees prepared by robots. Customers order the globally inspired bowls via touchscreen before the ingredients get dumped into hot woks by a machine. Automated water jets rinse each wok before the next order. Boulud isn’t the only operator integrating more tech: Here’s a look at the latest technology-centric operations opening around the country.
1. Robot-crafted burgers
CaliBurger’s Flippy is no longer the only robot in the burger business. The latest entrant into the labor-saving field is Creator, a San Francisco burger operation that hinges on a sophisticated burger robot that does much more than flip patties. The robot grinds the beef, forms the patties, grills the burgers, adds toppings and plops the whole thing onto a freshly sliced brioche bun that emerges from a compressed-air tube. The assembly line-like machine has 350 sensors, 50 actuators and 20 computers, according to a report in Fortune.
2. ‘Virtual’ food hall
Sous Vide Kitchen, a new food hall in New York City, is riffing on a variety of industry trends. Unlike traditional food halls, in which diners wait in line at one of a number of stalls, consumers here order from multiple fast-casual operations from central kiosks. All of the food, much of it prepared using the sous vide technique, is prepared from a central kitchen that churns out Middle Eastern, Asian, Latin and American fare such as sandwiches and salads. Restaurant operations consulting group JBH Advisory Group is the major stakeholder in the venture.
3. Turning food waste into salad
New delivery-only concept Nella Panzanella is bringing a high-tech twist on reducing food waste to Portland, Ore. The restaurant uses day-old bread from area bakeries to create its limited menu of traditional Italian bread-based salads. “We add thoughtful vinaigrettes and colorful vegetables to #savealoaf from the dumpster,” says the restaurant’s website. The salads are available only through delivery via Caviar.