Technology

Kiosk ordering provider Bite raises $9M as kiosks hit 'inflection point'

Restaurant interest in the technology is growing as labor costs rise. Bite said the fundraise will help it meet the demand.
Bite kiosks
More than 1,100 restaurants use Bite. | Photo courtesy of Bite

Kiosk ordering provider Bite has raised $9 million to help it grow, the company announced Tuesday.

The Series A funding round led by Staley Capital is a big endorsement for Bite and for kiosks, which have seen growing interest from restaurants as they look to operate more efficiently amid rising costs.

“There’s always a natural inflection point when a nice-to-have becomes a must-have, and I think some of the macro explains that,” Bite CEO Brandon Barton said in an interview.

New York City-based Bite was founded in 2015 and is used by more than 1,100 restaurant locations, including Fazoli’s, Newk’s Eatery and Taco John’s. Its kiosk ordering software is designed to help restaurants better manage their labor costs while also increasing sales.

Wage inflation in particular has given Bite momentum as restaurants look for ways to keep costs down. Barton said the technology isn’t intended to replace employees but rather to free them up to do other things.

“The ordering side of somebody’s role as a cashier might be a third of their job,” Barton said. By allowing Bite to handle that process, restaurants can use those employees elsewhere. This can help improve operations, especially at peak times. “You can be busier and put employees to more high-value tasks,” Barton said.

Most restaurants using Bite start with a hybrid approach to ordering, adding a couple kiosks while also offering the traditional counter-service option. “Over time people realize, ‘If I put in another kiosk, I might be able to shift more of the line in that direction,’” Barton said. Restaurants that have transitioned to 100% kiosk ordering have been “wildly efficient,” he said.

Kiosks have also proven to be a more profitable channel because customers tend to spend more when they order that way. With Bite, the average check increase is about 15% to 20%, though some brands have seen a much bigger boost, Barton said.

That’s due in part to the company’s use of artificial intelligence to suggest items customers might want based on what they’ve already ordered. The feature, called Bite Lift, can also take into account regional ordering trends and seasonality. 

“It’s not necessarily about getting people to spend more, but showing them the places on the menu that they would have spent anyway if they’d known about them,” Barton said. In short, “it helps you to purchase the thing you want.”

Bite’s fresh financing is a milestone that Barton believes the company would have hit years ago, had COVID-19 not made touchscreens a no-no. Now, Bite is poised to ride the kiosk wave. It plans to use the capital to hire more employees, satisfy unmet demand and develop new products that expand what kiosk ordering can be.

“We think about a kiosk experience as not an app experience and not a website experience but this third thing,” Barton said.

The most basic difference is that kiosks are operated with the index finger, which is unlike typing on a computer or thumbing around on an app. This has led Bite to focus deeply on details like touchscreen sensitivity and the ideal location for the shopping cart on the screen. (It’s the bottom right corner, where the customer’s hand typically falls.)

“Nobody has given enough thought, maybe with the exception of us, to the idea that this is an actual different modal,” he said. “We are on the graduate level of thinking about this.”

The funding round includes participation from Graham Partners, Food-X, One Way Ventures and Tamarisc Ventures.

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