News Briefs

  • 10/4/2023

    Chipotle Tests Digital Make Line

    Chipotle digital make line and employee

    Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing an automated digital makeline in collaboration with Hyphen, a foodservice platform designed to help restaurant owners, operators, and budding chefs move their business forward by automating kitchen operations. Bowls and salads are created by an automated system that moves the entrées through the bottom makeline where ingredients for the order are dispensed automatically. In tandem, a Chipotle team member can leverage the top makeline to create burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and kid's meals for the same digital order.

    How It Works

    1. Digital orders would be placed via the Chipotle app,, or third-party platforms.  
    2. If the order included a bowl or salad, those entrées would be routed to Hyphen's automated system. The bowl traverses along the bottom makeline and positions itself under the specified ingredient container. The intelligent dispensers dynamically portion each ingredient into the bowl. If the order included burritos, tacos, quesadillas, or kid's meals, a Chipotle team member would use the top of the same makeline to create those entrées.
    3. The completed bowl or salad would be raised from the bottom makeline and revealed at the end of the makeline through an opening in the countertop. A Chipotle team member would place a lid on the entrée and add any final items such as chips, side salsas, or guacamole to the order.
    4. Completed orders would be placed in their designated pick-up area: in-restaurant pickup shelves, walk-up window, or Chipotlane.

    Employee & Guest Experience

    Approximately 65% of all Chipotle digital orders are bowls or salads, so the cobotic digital makeline has the potential to free up more time for employees to service the front makeline and deliver exceptional hospitality, while simultaneously increasing capacity for digital orders during peak periods.

    The new digital makeline could also help enhance digital order accuracy, improving the guest experience.

    "Chipotle's new digital makeline built by Hyphen embodies our commitment to leveraging robotics to unlock the human potential of our workforce, ensuring an elevated dining experience for our guests," said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer. "Our goal is to have the automated digital makeline be the centerpiece of all our restaurants' digital kitchens." 

    Chipotle's Investment in Hyphen

    Chipotle invested in Hyphen as part of Cultivate Next, the company's $50 million venture fund that intends to make early-stage investments into strategically aligned companies that further its mission to Cultivate a Better World and help accelerate its aggressive growth plans. As a people-first company, Chipotle is seeking opportunities that will elevate the human experience for its teams as well as increase access and convenience for its guests. Investments may include innovations in farming and supply chain, advanced robotics, alternative proteins, and more.

    Through Cultivate Next, Chipotle also invested in Vebu, a product development company that works with food industry leaders to co-create intelligent automation and technology solutions. Earlier this year, Chipotle and Vebu unveiled the Autocado, an avocado processing cobotic prototype that cuts, cores, and peels avocados before they are hand mashed to create the restaurant's famous guacamole. 


    image courtesy of Chipotle

  • 6/21/2023

    Shiji and IPORT Partner to Transform Hotel Restaurant Operations with All-in-One Tablet and Payment Device Solution

    Shiji teaser logo

    Shiji, a global hospitality technology innovator, has partnered with IPORT, an award-winning manufacturer known for enhancing the usability of iPads and iPhones, to introduce an all-in-one software solution for hotel restaurants. This collaboration will provide hoteliers with a seamless combination of a tablet and payment device to maximize their F&B operations.

    The integrated iOS and payment device solution simplifies guest service for hotel restaurant servers, providing them with an effortless tool to cater to their guests' needs. As a certified Apple partner, Shiji and IPORT guarantee exceptional performance and reliability. Hoteliers can choose from multiple device options, including iPad Pro, iPad Mini, and iPhone, ensuring flexibility and compatibility with their operations.

    “IPORT products are built around modularity and flexibility that empower our hospitality customers to do more with the iOS platform. We are thrilled to partner with a leading iPad and iPhone cloud PMS and POS platform provider like Shiji,” said Chris Lawson, Head of Partnerships, IPORT. “We look forward to innovating with Shiji in disrupting legacy, monolithic providers who have limited the industry from harnessing the power of iOS and mobility. The future is bright, and the possibilities are endless with IPORT, iOS, and Shiji.”

    "The partnership with IPORT is a significant milestone for Shiji in our commitment to provide innovative technology solutions for the hospitality industry," said Ryan King, Senior Vice President of Shiji in the Americas. "By combining our expertise with IPORT’s hardware solutions, we empower hoteliers to streamline restaurant operations and deliver exceptional guest experiences. This collaboration represents another step forward in our dedication to driving success in the Americas, and globally."

    The tablet and payment device solution seamlessly integrates with multiple payment gateways, allowing hoteliers to choose the system that best suits their needs. By simplifying the payment process, it reduces operational complexities, minimizes errors, and saves valuable time and resources for hoteliers.

  • 10/4/2023

    Vistry Unveils Conversational AI Platform for Food Commerce

    Vistry Conversational AI chatbot

    Vistry, a San Diego-based startup, leading the way in Generative AI and restaurant automation, proudly announced the launch of its Conversational AI platform, along with its AI Customer Assistant chatbot. The chatbot assistant, called LumoChat, is designed to assist customers in completing their online ordering tasks across different channels such as web and mobile. The chatbot blends conversational and clickable interactions for a familiar, yet completely unique customer experience.

    Vistry's CEO and Founder, Atif Kureishy, has experienced firsthand how enterprises have grown exponentially through AI and sees how the restaurant industry is ripe for AI's operational efficiency.

    "Generative AI is reshaping the food service industry's guest and employee experience. Our platform stands at the center of this transformation, offering omni-channel capabilities and seamless integrations with existing digital platforms," said Kureishy.

    Introducing LumoChat (Lumo), the AI Customer Service Assistant — Leveraging ChatGPT-like technology, Lumo acts as a virtual concierge that personalizes customer experiences and increases online orders.  It allows customers to ask questions about the menu, order pickup and delivery, and resolve customer service issues in real-time.

    • Menu & location understanding - Lumo excels in intelligent menu parsing and location services. Whether you're looking for vegan options or the closest outlet, it directs you seamlessly.
    • Cart building - Harnessing advanced AI algorithms, Lumo constructs an optimized cart for you. After describing food and ingredient preferences, Lumo's AI creates a personalized shopping cart that enhances your food commerce experience. From recommended pairings to promotional items, customers experience a cart tailored to their preferences.
    • Order checkout - Lumo ensures a streamlined checkout process with features like auto-filled details and secure payment options. It's a checkout experience designed for speed and security.
    • Other support - Lumo isn't just for orders; it's a comprehensive support tool. Whether you're curious about nutritional facts, current promotions, catering or special dietary accommodations, it provides instant, accurate information.

    Vistry's Conversational AI platform integrates with modern online ordering platforms and point-of-sale systems, and is accessible via web, mobile and social channels. Within minutes, a restaurant can deploy an expert chatbot to their customer base – assisting customers and converting online sales.

    Try Lumo's live demo and ask the AI Customer Assistant anything from menu allergens to what is the concept's most ordered menu item. The platform demonstrates why conversational commerce is becoming the growth of the restaurant industry's future.

    Based on the 2023 NRA's State of the Restaurant Industry Report, restaurants state roughly ¾ of all traffic occurred off premises (e.g., drive-thru, curbside, takeout-counter, ghost kitchens or delivery). AI is poised to help streamline restaurant operations and profitability via enhanced food commerce for off-premises ordering and customer service.

    When customers access a restaurant's preferred digital channel, they can ask Lumo about menu items, allergens, ingredient listings, hours of operation, coupons and specials, sustainability practices, capacity for large parties, accommodations for small children and the like. Next, Lumo will quickly guide them through completing their order, similar to a concierge.              

    For example, a customer browsing an online menu wants dinner for a family of four but is working with a $75 budget. They turn to Lumo, requesting meal recommendations that fit within this budget. In moments, Lumo provides a combination of appetizers, family style value meals, and a shared dessert, ensuring a delightful dining experience without exceeding the $75 constraint.    

  • 10/4/2023

    MDO Acquires HelloGM

    MDO and HelloGM logos

    MDO, a hotel data platform that centralizes and operationalizes critical performance and financial data for hotel companies, has bolstered its back-office automation and business intelligence capabilities with the acquisition of HelloGM.

    HelloGM, a centralized data analytics and automation platform, enables hotel operators to better understand property-level operating performance and automate previously manual reconciliation tasks. MDO customers will now be able to take advantage of a broader set of back-office capabilities, while HelloGM customers will benefit from MDO’s paperless night audit solution and more robust budgeting, forecasting and business intelligence solutions.

    “We are thrilled to welcome the HelloGM team and customers to MDO,” said MDO CEO Vic Chynoweth. “By offering improved reconciliation workflows and efficiencies in hotel accounting and financing departments, MDO is now delivering solutions across all areas of the hotel back office. Helping hoteliers with streamlined, centralized operations and data-driven decision making tools will allow them to focus on what they do best, which is delivering a fantastic guest experience.”

    Hotel operators face a dire challenge: The costs of staffing and supplying a hotel continue to rise and resources are oftentimes scarce. As a result, many hoteliers are focusing on finding creative ways to increase efficiency so they can do more with smaller teams, including centralizing many of the manual tasks that were previously performed on-property.

    Coupled with HelloGM’s capabilities, MDO customers will now be able to automate and streamline more back-office tasks, helping to offset rising costs and improving the bottom line.

    “HelloGM is excited to join MDO, giving our customers access to a broader set of capabilities and the ability to leverage MDO's established relationships with industry partners, which will increase data resiliency and quality,” said Dhaval Chokshi, Co-Founder and CEO at HelloGM. “We are excited about the opportunity to scale the business while continuing to provide first-class service to our hotel partners.” 

    Over the past decade, MDO has evolved from a hotel-specific digital document storage solution to a holistic hotel data platform serving thousands of hotels. A next-generation business intelligence platform, announced in 2023, is enabling hotel owners and operators with the data and analytics they need to improve revenue, profit and guest satisfaction.

  • 10/4/2023

    Alterra Mountain Company Expands Leadership Team

    Alterra Mtn Co teaser logo

    Today, Alterra Mountain Company has announced key additions to its executive leadership team with the appointment of Krista Sprenger as Chief Development Officer (CDO), Gui Karyo as Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Andrew Bodziak in the newly created role of Executive Vice President (EVP), Hospitality.

    “We are excited to add these extraordinarily talented leaders in fields so crucial to the evolution and continued success of Alterra Mountain Company,” said Jared Smith, President & CEO, Alterra Mountain Company. “Krista, Gui, and Andrew each bring extensive expertise in their fields, and I am looking forward to their collaboration with leaders across our North American destinations as we seek to continually enhance the guest and employee experience.”

    In her role as CDO, Krista will be responsible for developing, redeveloping, and reprogramming existing assets at all Alterra destinations, on and off the mountain. In addition, she will lead the company’s overarching strategy to leverage its real estate portfolio to deliver added value to our operating businesses.

    Krista is an entrepreneurial real estate executive with two decades of diverse real estate experience. Over the course of her career, she has been involved in the acquisition, development, and operations of over 25 million square feet of mixed-use, commercial, and boutique hospitality projects. Her experience with multiple, simultaneous large-scale and complex projects and her deep experience with creative placemaking, community engagement, and sustainable development practices makes her the ideal person to help lead Alterra’s ambitious plans.

    As CTO, Gui’s responsibilities include oversight of all Alterra technology operations, software development, and overall approach to the continual improvement of the guest experience through technology. His career has featured over 20 years of technical innovation, driving improvements in consumer experience and business operations across industries ranging from entertainment at Marvel and Ticketmaster, to gaming at Atari, and manufacturing and consumer products at Varsity Brands.

    Andrew Bodziak has been named Alterra’s first EVP, Hospitality. In this new role, Andrew will be responsible for leading the company’s approach to lodging, food and beverage, retail, and skier services. In collaboration with each destination's president, Andrew will build a team of hospitality leaders and develop an overarching strategy to further expand and enhance these businesses to provide authentic and diversified offerings with a focus on guest satisfaction, operational efficiencies, and cost effectiveness.

    Andrew has 15 years of experience in global lodging and luxury brands, including Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and most recently, Marriott International, where he led global operations for 30+ brands and 8,500+ hotels around the world in mobile guest services, digital in-room entertainment, sustainability, engineering, as well as the company’s offerings in spa, retail, and fitness.

  • 10/4/2023

    SpotOn Creates Guide to Help Restaurants Evaluate, Invest in Tech

    spoton pay at table server

    SpotOn released the Restaurant Tech Assessment Checklist, a guide for restaurant owners and operators to evaluate their current technology and streamline their tech investments in 2024. Launched as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Tech Month, SpotOn’s Tech Checklist was designed to help operators assess the costs and effectiveness of their current technology stack, level-set their technology needs moving forward, and find the right technology partner for their business.

    Regular assessments of current technology allow restaurant owners and operators to ensure the technology they’re using in day-to-day operations is genuinely helping them achieve their business goals. Using a bunch of technology systems with long-term contracts and fees can cut into a restaurant’s profit margins, making evaluating each piece of technology in use and considering the potential for consolidation a vital stop on the road to profitability.

    “I encourage every restaurant owner to write down every technology your teams are using daily,” explained Emma Blecker, Director of Business Systems at Boqueria and a SpotOn client. “While there are exciting, new technologies, having 100 different platforms that each do one thing adds to training, workflows, and becomes taxing for employees and unsustainable for a growing restaurant.”

    Download SpotOn's Restaurant Tech Assessment Checklist.

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