News Briefs


NRA Show News: APEX Introduces Smart Pickup Lockers


Apex Order Pickup Solutions introduces its new NextUp Series of indoor/outdoor smart lockers designed to provide efficient, frictionless ecommerce and digital order fulfillment.

See the OrderHQ Exterior Smart Food Lockers and NextUp Smart Pickup Lockers at  National Restaurant Association Show Booth 5839.

NextUp Smart Pickup Lockers ensure secure order pickup with minimal employee labor while providing customers with quick, convenient, and secure access inside or outside of the store 24 hours a day. This solves many of the inefficiencies encountered by businesses that rely on digital ordering for on-site pickup. 

This new series uses proprietary ApexIQ software, which offers easy integrations with popular enterprise resource planning systems, POS software, mobile apps and more. ApexIQ software also offers a visual loading guide for employees, directional pickup guides for customers, and an easy-to-use portal that lets authorized users manage locker features and view data from one location or across their enterprise.

NextUp lockers help reduce errors for both employee order loading and customer pickup. They virtually eliminate mistaken pickups and stolen orders, ensuring that the right order goes to the right customer, at the right time. They also offer a helpful feature that automatically pops open the door if a customer leaves part of an order in the compartment. The lockers are IP54 rated, so they can be placed outside or in a store vestibule to give customers flexible, 24/7 access to their orders, without the need for an employee to be there.



AHLA, IFBTA Announce Technology Partnership


The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the International Food and Beverage Technology Association (IFBTA) today announced a new strategic partnership that will more closely align the two associations to benefit their respective members and advance technology within the hospitality and foodservice industries. 

The partnership will enhance AHLA’s connectivity to food and beverage technology content and key industry suppliers while expanding IFBTA’s organizational reach by aligning it with America’s largest hotel association.

The new agreement includes the following areas of collaboration:  

  • IFBTA and AHLA will become association partners, wherein IFBTA becomes an AHLA Association Member and AHLA becomes an IFBTA Association Member 
  • A representative from AHLA’s technology committee, HTNG, will serve as a member of the IFBTA Board of Directors
  • An IFBTA representative will serve as a member of AHLA’s Food & Beverage Committee and will also support and promote AHLA’s HTNG initiatives
  • IFBTA and AHLA will support relationships with key food and beverage thought leaders, innovators, and industry suppliers
  • IFBTA membership will be provided as an included benefit of AHLA membership, to include access to IFBTA resources, chapters, education, and events

“Lodging and food and beverage are the cornerstones of hospitality, and this partnership brings together two of the most important associations in these areas,” said AHLA Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Kevin Carey. “The technology education capabilities and global F&B reach IFBTA brings to AHLA will be valuable assets to our association and its members.”

“Although food and beverage technology has long been at the intersection of the hospitality and foodservice industries, they have often been split between those operating hotels and those operating foodservice establishments,” said Rob Grimes, CEO of the IFBTA. “The partnership between the IFBTA and AHLA further solidifies the crossover and allows those from each industry to gather and share information with their professional counterparts. We are excited to support AHLA by providing additional networking, resources and educational opportunities to their membership.”

The agreement announced today is one in a series of recent AHLA partnerships that are enabling the organization to better serve its members and the hotel industry. Other examples include:

  • AHLA’s partnership with the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Americas
  • AHLA’s partnership with Questex to produce the industry-leading technology and operations trade show, The Hospitality Show
  • AHLA’s 10-year agreement with HFTP to produce the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI)
  • AHLA’s partnership with the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (ICHRIE) to grow the hotel and hospitality industry workforce

PreciTaste Deploys AI Kitchen Management Solution in NY, Chicago Restaurants

DIG restaurant

New York-based DIG and Chicago-based Urbanbelly restaurants are using PreciTaste's plug-and-play Prep Assistant.

Launched earlier this year, PreciTaste's Prep Assistant is providing real results to combat today's rising labor and food cost challenges. It takes task management from clipboards to digital automation, accurately guiding each crew member on precisely how much to prep per daypart based on AI-generated demand predictions. Customers report that the solution saves managers and crew members over an hour per day from the first day of installation and reduces food waste by up to 20% - leading to up to a 5% food cost saving overall, both of which increase profitability.  PreciTaste shared real-world examples in the Tech Disruptor series at MURTEC.

"DIG's main priorities are creating the freshest dishes and best experiences for our guests and our kitchen teams. With the Prep Assistant, our managers can focus more on cooking delicious food and training our chefs, and less on how much to prep as tasks are organized more efficiently and accurately," says Tracy Kim, CEO of DIG, a restaurant group that serves scratch-cooked American fare. 

Chef Bill Kim, Urbanbelly Founder and Chef-Partner at Cornerstone Restaurant Group, is seeing similar results. He says, "We are thrilled to partner with PreciTaste to integrate the Prep Assistant into the daily operations at Urbanbelly. Prep Assistant AI technology provides the tools to empower our staff and operators to optimize resources and run our business most effectively. Utilizing AI is a massive benefit to the restaurant industry to create efficient workflows and allow increased managerial bandwidth to focus on growth and development."

As PreciTaste continues expanding their offerings to more midsize restaurants, its team of 80+ engineers just released a first-of-its-kind proprietary ChatGPT-like customer extension - the Chat Assistant. This software-based restaurant management solution provides a wealth of operations data from all connected stores in real time. With generative AI and Large Language Models (LLM), all operations data becomes accessible to provide instant intelligent insights and calculations around operational KPIs.  

With nearly 2,500 food AI systems deployed in the past two years, PreciTaste is a market-proven platform that now offers AI accessibility for restaurants of many sizes and offerings. Now that they've seen the impact on their bottom line, Urbanbelly and DIG plan to expand their AI capabilities to continue to increase labor efficiency and their level of customer service in the coming months.


NRA Show News: Nala Robotics Introduces Autonomous Bots

a close up of a robot

Nala Robotics, an AI technology company revolutionizing the culinary industry,  unveiled two fully autonomous, self-cleaning robots that can prepare an unlimited assortment of customized food bowls and sandwiches anytime, anywhere and without human intervention.

Ideal for quick-service chain restaurants and commercial kitchens, these latest additions to the company’s growing lineup of robot chefs.

Within a 10’x10’ footprint, Bowl Bot can prepare an infinite number of salad bowls, vegan bowls and burrito bowls. Consumers can select from 28 ingredients of bases, proteins and toppings, including chopped and sliced assorted vegetables, meats and cheeses. Bowl Bot also can grip and control sauce bottles while administering food portions with 95% accuracy, ensuring quality and consistency, while eliminating food waste.

Sandwich Bot can prepare nearly any type of sandwich from 48 choices of meats, vegetables and cheeses – all within a 16’ x 12’ space. Consumers can also select bread choice options and various spreads and sauces to  customize their favorite subs.

The Wingman can pick up and load frying baskets with chicken wings, French fries and other food items, dip them in oil and shake off any excess. The multi-fryer configuration allows different cooked foods to simultaneously be sent to individual seasoning bins where spices or sauces are added and properly mixed to ensure every wing or food item is evenly coated.

Spotless by Nala provides a complete dishwashing solution, from scrubbing to storage. This highly intelligent robot will remove leftovers, rinse and clean cookware, cutlery, dishware and glassware, as well as dry, stack and store hundreds of varieties of utensils and kitchenware.

Orders and Fulfillment

Each Nala Robotics chef is equipped with natural language processing features to respond to voice menu orders at the point-of-sale or operational commands in the kitchen. In addition to on-premises ordering via multi-modal kiosk for in-dining or takeout, restaurants can create virtual storefronts for remote transactions through a website or online food ordering and delivery platform. Advanced AI and machine learning, along with high-performance cameras and sensors are used to perform all autonomous functions. More than 1,200 parameters are checked every microsecond, ranging from robot field of vision and food quality to point-of-sales, ensuring safety and enhanced productivity. Designed to be easily integrated into new or existing kitchens, all robots are equipped with a self-cleaning system and meet UL and NSF standards for safety.

Nala Robotics will be demonstrating several of its technologies at the at the National Restaurant Association Show May 20-23 (Booth: Lakeside Center — 9409) held at McCormick Place in Chicago. Email [email protected] for more information on pricing and customized solutions.


Denny's Launches Series of National Wellness, Mental Health Summits

Dennys exterior of diner

As part of a national effort to raise awareness and offer expert insights, Denny's is kicking off a series of summits focused on how companies and individuals can better manage and improve their mental health and wellness.

The first summit is taking place on April 22 at the HPAC Theater in Spartanburg, S.C. The summit will be free to the public and attendees can participate in-person or virtually.

"Denny's has always been committed to feeding people's bodies, minds, and souls, and this summit series perfectly aligns with our holistic approach to wellness," said Kelli Valade, CEO of Denny's. "The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the topics of mental health and personal well-being front and center. Now is the time to think about how we can bring our whole selves to all facets of our lives, including the workplace."

The summit keynote speaker is Dr. Daniel E. Dawes, Senior Vice President for Global Health and Executive Director of the Institute of Global Health Equity at Meharry Medical College. Dawes will discuss the importance of addressing mental health equity and the path forward to achieving a healthier society. Other nationally recognized panelists include:  

  • Dr. Shaneeta Johnson, a surgeon, clinician, educator, and researcher at Morehouse School of Medicine and Senior Fellow in Global Health Equity at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute
  • Dr. Monique May, a board-certified and licensed family physician best known as the "Physician in the Kitchen"
  • Dr. Bennie L. Harris, Chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate
  • Sharon Lykins, Denny's Vice President of Product Innovation

"Mental health and wellness significantly impact the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities across the Upstate region and beyond," said USC Upstate Chancellor, Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D. "We are thrilled to join forces with a global leader like Denny's to address one of the most critical public health issues of our time."

Journalist Roland S. Martin will moderate two panels, "Mindful Eating," which will address the connection between food and wellness, and "Wellness at the Workplace," which focuses on mental health at work.

A second mental health summit will be offered on October 10 in Nashville, Tennessee.


Amperity Replaces Third-Party Cookies to Drive Customer Acquisition and ROI

amperity logo

Amperity, an enterprise customer data platform (CDP) for consumer brands, announces a major company milestone of delivering over 10 billion unified customer profiles per day to ad platforms, representing more than $300 billion in digital ad spend annually. Through its industry-leading ad connectors and patented unified customer profiles, brands such as Alaska Airlines, Brooks Running, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, have achieved match rates as high as 85% on key channels, improve return on ad spend (ROAS) by up to 5X, and experience up to 90% faster activation time for new campaigns.

With the elimination of third-party cookies and constantly evolving data privacy laws, marketers can no longer rely on the traditional methods of identifying, retaining and acquiring customers. To ensure they are delivering ROI on every paid campaign, brands should tap into their own first-party customer data. According to a survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), brands that link all of their first-party data sources can generate double the incremental revenue from a single ad placement.

“Marketing is experiencing a generational shift in how they acquire and retain their best customers especially with the deprecation of third-party identifiers and ever-evolving data privacy policies,” said Barry Padgett, CEO of Amperity. “With Amperity, brands and agencies can build first-party audiences and activate their data in hours - when it traditionally takes days or weeks to reach their high value customers. This enables them to be hyper-responsive to changing consumer dynamics to grow revenue and increase profitability.”

Why Amperity’s Approach is Unique

Traditional digital marketing has historically revolved around brands “renting” customer data from third-party data sources and then relying on external digital identity graphs to match their data with ad platforms. This method is no longer preferred as data privacy laws and customer preferences evolve. With Amperity, brands can take advantage of AI and machine learning to ingest and stitch together online and offline customer data to build comprehensive, live unified profiles.

Unlike other approaches that use fixed and brittle matching rules, Amperity's patented, AI-powered identity resolution and unified customer profiles build a complete view of customers that increase match rates, drive suppression and retargeting, and generate high-value audience segments. This foundation allows digital teams to quickly build targeted segments, directly activate with leading ad platforms and effectively measure the impact of digital ads across online and in-store purchases.

“Amperity has been at the forefront of helping its customers deliver on the promise of building a unified customer data foundation,” said Matthew Hogg, senior vice president, partnerships at Criteo. "With Amperity, our clients are seeing higher match rates and decreased customer acquisition costs, while delivering personalized advertising that drives real commerce outcomes in a privacy safe manner.”

How Brands Are Benefitting

Customers using Amperity for paid media campaigns have reported incredible results that are significantly impacting the bottom line.

Major brands such as Alaska Airlines, Reckitt, SPARC Group and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts are experiencing increased return on investment (ROI). SPARC Group, a long time Amperity customer, experienced a 5X ROAS using predicted CLV (customer lifetime value) for segmentation. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts saw double digit growth in ROAS in activated targeted audiences, while Alaska Airlines experienced a 21% cost savings in paid channels with Amperity. From early market implementations, Reckitt, a global Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company, has seen a 30% improvement in match rates and significant uplift of seed audience size leveraging its customer data in Amperity.


"Having direct-to-publisher activation at our fingertips is key,” said Michael Shiwdin, vice president, guest intelligence & engagement at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “With Amperity for Paid Media, we can take our high-impact guest audiences directly to the paid media ecosystem for retargeting and look-alike modeling. In doing so, we are seeing an uplift in conversions for targeted audiences, all while realizing new cost efficiencies and greater privacy.”