Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is pivoting to pizza, with the help of a robot.
The 170-unit chain is partnering with Piestro to pilot one of its automated pizza kiosks, or Piestro Pods, at its flagship restaurant in Las Vegas.
Capriotti’s has also agreed to buy as many as 100 Piestro Pods within five years of their availability.
The Vegas-based chain, which serves hot and cold sandwiches and is known for slow-roasting turkeys in-house, is mainly a lunch destination. But it believes adding pizza bots will help boost its dinner business.
"Piestro will be a tremendous addition to our shops and give our customers a brand-new menu category for evening and late-night eats that we didn't have before," said CEO Ashley Morris in a statement. "During these slower blocks of the day, one pod could increase our revenue without needing to find additional team members.”
Capriotti’s has invested aggressively in technology in recent years, adding ghost kitchens and virtual brands and giving the newly acquired Wing Zone a high-tech makeover.
Piestro’s machines cook pizzas in three minutes and offer a variety of toppings. The bots also slice and box the pizzas, which are retrieved from pickup lockers built into the machine.
The company has been raising money via the crowdfunding site Wax. As of Thursday, it had raised more than $4 million of its $10 million goal with one week to go. It had previously been seeking $20 million.
Piestro has also licensed its technology to 800 Degrees Pizza and Carbone Restaurant Group, which could bring thousands of robotic pizza machines to the U.S. and Canada in the coming years.
Automated food kiosks have caught on recently as a way for restaurants to grow quickly while offering customers convenient access to their food. Jamba, Wow Bao, 800 Degrees Pizza and others are pursuing the strategy as a way to grow in nontraditional locations like airports, hospitals and retailers.
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