Restaurant roundup: brands are adding robotics

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Since the start of the pandemic, a range of different brands have added drive-thru lanes, noting high demand for the order channel.

Now fast-casual brand Smokey Bones, which has 62 locations in 16 states, announced Tuesday (June 21) that it will open its first drive-thru in Bowling Green, Ky., on Wednesday (June 22). The company also offers its virtual brands at the drive-thru.

Read more: Sweetgreen will open a drive-thru

“Not only does a drive-thru lane cater to the way people dine today with more take-out orders, it makes it quicker, easier, and easier for customers to enjoy Smokey Bones” anytime. and anywhere” – our vision of Smokey Bones’ off-site dining,” brand CEO James O’Reilly said in a statement. generation for casual dining and has the potential to redefine what ‘fast casual’ truly means.”

Not only have brands added drive-thru lanes, but those with existing drive-thrus have redesigned their restaurants for today’s digital dining customer, adding mobile order pickup lanes. More recently, Chick-fil-A announced a trial of mobile ordering express lanes.

See also: Chick-fil-A joins drive-thru trend of mobile controls to improve efficiency

Research from the PYMNTS 2022 Restaurant Friction Index, created in conjunction with Paytronix, found that 35% of diners said they would be more likely to buy from restaurants that have drive-thru pickup capabilities. Additionally, the study’s survey of more than 500 restaurant managers found that about half of all restaurants offer this option.

Related News: New data shows digital loyalty programs are a key differentiator for top-performing restaurants

Conveyor belt sushi chain adds robot servers

Tech restaurant chain Kura Sushi, which has more than 500 locations worldwide, including 37 in the United States, is adding new automated appliances to its restaurants. The conveyor-belt sushi brand is introducing robotic servers, Kur-B the KuraBot, to all of its U.S. restaurants, Restaurant Business reported Friday, June 24.

“We are continually looking for new developments to enrich the customer experience and are excited to be able to bring these new elements to our catering restaurants,” said Hideto Sugimoto, Director of System and Menu Development for Kura Sushi USA, in a statement. .

The brand is also rolling out tablets that allow consumers to place their own drink orders and add mobile payment options.

The move comes as restaurants face an extremely tough labor market.

“Food service operators are having a hard time post-COVID. Margins were low before, they had hiring issues before, but the post-COVID situation just knocked them out of the water,” said Covahne Michaels, vice president of marketing at restaurant robotics company Blendid. , to PYMNTS in an interview last month.

“We are seeing left and right not just an increase in costs for them, but such difficulty in hiring that many are closing their off hours on their sites, and they are just tearing their hair out. [about] how they can earn a decent living in the future,” Michaels said.

Read more: Restaurant robotics companies face a learning curve bringing technology to market

Kura is far from the only restaurant brand to have tested robotic servers. In March, Bear Robotics, a hospitality technology company that creates autonomous robotic servers and buses, announced that it had raised $81 million in its Series B funding round, bringing its total funding to $117 million. dollars. The company has partnered with Chili’s, Denny’s and other popular brands.

You Might Also Like: Bear Robotics Announces $81M Series B As Restaurants Struggle To Meet Dine-In Demand

Amid continuous delivery demand, Wings brand expands internationally

Over the past two years, demand for restaurant delivery has remained high even as consumers have returned to restaurant dining rooms, leading to the strong performance of brands focused on easy-to-deliver foods such as chicken wings.

Testifying to this success, Wingstop, the fast-casual brand based in Addison, Texas, announced on Wednesday June 22 that it was expanding into Canada with the opening of a store in Toronto.

“Our first restaurant opening in Canada is proof of the success and portability of Wingstop outside of the United States, where our brand has been so successful,” said Nicolas Boudet, President of International Relations at Wingstop, in a press release. “Wingstop’s ability to deliver an unparalleled customer and flavor experience gives us confidence in the potential of our brand in Canada.

According to data from the May edition of PYMNTS’ ConnectedEconomy report, The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Brick-and-Mortar Economy Goes Digital, according to US customer habits.

Additional details: 19 million additional consumers went online to bank, shop and pay bills in May 2022

The study, which is based on a census survey of more than 2,600 US consumers about their digital habits, found that 43% of consumers ordered from a restaurant delivery aggregator in April, compared to 40 % in February and March. Additionally, 56% said they had used a restaurant’s website or app to buy meals for takeout or delivery, up from 52% in March.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: THE CUSTOM PURCHASING EXPERIENCE STUDY – MAY 2022

About: PYMNTS’ survey of 2,094 consumers for The Tailored Shopping Experience report, a collaboration with Elastic Path, shows where merchants are succeeding and where they need to up their game to deliver a personalized shopping experience.

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