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Automated restaurant Speedy Eats inks deal for Picnic pizza bots

The startup will use Picnic’s robots in its high-tech food kiosks. It plans to open 5,000 of them in five years, starting in 2023.
Picnic robot
Speedy Eats will use Picnic's pizza-topping bots (pictured) in its fully automated restaurants. / Photograph courtesy of Picnic

Speedy Eats, a fully automated drive-thru startup, has found its pizza chef.

The Baton Rouge, La.-based company on Friday said it has a deal with Picnic Works to use its pizza-topping robots in its restaurants. 

Those restaurants are essentially high-tech vending machines that Speedy Eats plans to put in parking lots and other locations, where they’ll serve pizza, chicken and barbecue around the clock.

Speedy Eats has a prototype of its restaurant but no operational locations as of now. And yet it expects to open 5,000 outlets over the next five years. Picnic said that would make the deal worth $800 million. 

“Speedy Eats is rethinking food production and delivery and we’re thrilled that they chose Picnic to provide the automated pizza equipment that will help them scale, delight customers, and increase profitability,” said Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic, in a statement. He said Picnic would begin production of stations for Speedy Eats in the next few months.

Picnic’s pizza machine can assemble uncooked pizzas, adding sauce, cheese and toppings at a rate of 100 pies an hour. The idea is to improve consistency and reduce food waste and labor costs. The company raised $20.5 million last year to fuel its growth.

As for Speedy Eats, it said it’s looking at 40,000 potential parking lot locations in the U.S. for its 16-foot-by-8.5-foot units. Each unit includes a fridge, oven and warmer as well as a customer-facing fridge containing sides and beverages, according to its website.

The design, it said, allows customers and delivery drivers to drive up and order from Speedy Eats without leaving their car, with food ready in as little as 20 seconds. In addition to the 5,000 stand-alone outlets, Speedy Eats plans to open regional production centers to supply them. 

The company has raised nearly $293,000 of a $1 million goal on fundraising site Start Engine, where it notes: “Speedy Eats is pre-revenue and we have a working prototype in our lab.” It said it would open its first location in Baton Rouge next year.

“Our goal is to bring fresh food to people whenever and wherever they want it and we’re ambitious in our plans to open 5,000 locations in the next five years,” said F. Speed Bancroft, CEO and president of Bancroft Automated Restaurants, in a statement. “We’re partnering with Picnic for their expertise in automation and proven market success.”

Speedy Eats is one of a growing number of fully automated restaurants looking to offer customers speed and convenience but with lower overhead than a traditional restaurant. Capriotti’s, Wow Bao and Jamba are pursuing a similar strategy.

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