At MURTEC Executive Summit, leading restaurant operators shared their first-hand experience with using robots in the back of house. In the panel discussion, Robots Rise Up, Michael Guinan at White Castle, David Bloom, Chief Development and Operating Officer at Wingzone and Capriotti's, Massimo Noja De Marco at Kitchen United, Miso Robotics, and Piestro, shared their real-world experience using robots. The panel discussion was moderated by Abigail Lorden, VP & Publisher, Hospitality Technology. Co-Founder, Restaurant Technology Network.
Top Three Takeaways
1. If you don't plan to have robotics in your kitchen within 18 months, you're moving too slow.
2. Front-line employees see themselves as having more value - not less - by working alongside a robot in the kitchen.
3. Robotics have to be integrated into your tech stack so you can collect and act on data; otherwise it's just a neat looking fryer.
Restaurant operators are leaning into robotics as they continue to stare down labor shortage that has no end sight. According to this recent restaurant survey, 52% are employing technology online and on-premise to help bridge labor gaps.
"We're committed to leaning into technology as the only scalable solution for the challenges we're all facing. We're dedicated to a long-term approach to solving these problems. We've been working on it for years, and we feel like when it gets solved, we will have that competitive advantage," said David Bloom, Chief Development and Operating Officer, Wing Zone has teamed up with Miso Robotics to make Flippy 2 a part of the chain's standard build for all future restaurant locations.
Robots are not taking away jobs from people in the restaurant industry; panelists agreed. Robots are being used to do repetitive jobs like working the fry station. One bonus: many employees are stoked to work alongside robots.
When adding new technology, "make sure your partner fits with your culture. It's not a race, it's a journey. We've very happy with our partnership with Miso Robotics. We have four, soon to be 10 (locations using robots in the kitchen), and it's just going to continue to evolve," said Michael Guinan, VP of Operation Services, White Castle. After a successful pilot program, White Castle will add Flippy to 100 locations.
Panelists were optimistic that a hybrid restaurant that includes both employees and robots will become more commonplace.
"If we can have surgeons in Boston doing brain surgery in Africa, we can figure out how to make restaurants work," said Bloom.