We’ve followed the rise of pizza robots — both as delivery vehicles and as robotic chefs in the kitchen — closely, so the news that Stellar Pizza announced a $16.5 million funding round backed by venture capital firm Jay-Z Partners Marcy Venture comes as no surprise. . The robotic pizza truck company just launched in Los Angeles this fall and offers a new, employee-friendly way to serve pizza on wheels.
Stellar’s pizza robots aren’t the only AI chefs in town: Karakuri is a London-based robot from FRYR that can automate fast-service fried food lines. looks familiar? Karakuri reminds us of the Flippy robot of Miso Robotics, which has already been deployed in many major restaurant brands. Will Karakuri offer a bit of friendly competition?
Tech Tracker aggregates what’s happening in the tech sector of the restaurant industry, including news from restaurants, vendors, digital platforms, and third-party delivery companies. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know and why:
Marcy Venture Partners leads $16.5 million funding round for Stellar Pizza
Although the robotic pizza truck company Stellar Pizza hasn’t taken off yet, the foodservice tech company the engineer founded SpaceX already has $25.5 million in investment.
On top of a previous $9 million fundraising investment from Root Ventures, Stellar Pizza on October 3 announced a $16.5 million Series A funding round led by Jay-Z affiliate Marcy Venture Partners. With this funding, Stellar Pizza founder Benson Tsai said they’ll be able to make “strategic investments” ahead of the company’s impending launch at USC, which other campuses will soon follow.
Stellar Pizza’s robotic arms can pick up and press the ball of dough, prepare toppings based on any order the customer asks for, and then transfer the pie to the onboard pizza oven, where it will be ready in two and a half minutes. .
Marcy Venture Partners has also invested in Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie brand, plant-based chicken Simulate, and allergen-free cookie maker Partake.
Karakuri is another robot on the market
Karakuri is giving Miso Robotics’ Flippy the fry Cooking some healthy competition with new frying line automation technology from London-based FRYR Robotics. Karakuri is available in both the US and Europe at $2,100 and can cook 130 pounds of french fries in one hour.
The robot is designed not only to cook French fries without human hands, but also to reduce food waste by being able to calculate the amount of French fries needed to match a restaurant’s order, and it can also save energy and use oil as well. The product will be installed in quick service restaurants and fast food restaurants globally sometime in the next few months.
“The FRYR210 is the first in the family of frying line solutions,” Barney Wage, CEO of FRYR, said in a statement. “We will expand FRYR in the future to support different numbers of frying wells and freezers to help meet the cost and capacity requirements of each restaurant.”
Opening of the first Taco Bell and electric vehicle charging station
In other eco-friendly news, Taco Bell franchisee Diversified Restaurant Group will be the first quick-service restaurant in history to have an electric car charging station in the parking lot. Franchisees are partnering with ChargeNet Stations to create a convenient place for six EVs (and their owners) simultaneously to refuel “charge and chalupa” starting Tuesday. October 18.
“I think there’s a huge demand for this,” Tom Douglas, COO of the diversified restaurant group, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “I think it will increase traffic and provide more options for customers. […] We provide the perfect place for people who are looking for a quick 20 minute charge and are able to have something to eat, too.”
Going forward, Diversified Restaurant Group plans to add charging stations across more of its restaurants, and Taco Bell will add EV charging units at up to 120 more Taco Bells across California.
Grubhub is now partnering with GoPuff
While we had previously speculated that convenience store delivery company GoPuff could give food delivery giants a run for their money, they seem to be working together now. Earlier this month, GoPuff announced a partnership with . Grubhub, offers a selection of c-store products – from pampers to pet supplies – at Grubhub Market in select markets in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Austin.
Grubhub will also collaborate with GoPuff to offer its network of alcohol delivery partners in addition to its virtual brands, including Mean Tomato. Grubhub+ members will get free delivery of these items just as they do with regular restaurant delivery orders.
“Expanding the Jobov platform allows us to meet consumers’ immediate needs anywhere they shop,” Daniel Folkman, Vice President of Business at Jobf, said in a statement. “By combining our extensive portfolio, logistics network, and infrastructure with Grubhub’s virtual storefronts, we can create smoother, one-stop shopping experiences for the unparalleled holistic shopping experience at Gopuff.”
Uber now integrates with Toast and Clover
As more technology companies continue to emerge, funding increases, and other software startups acquire more and more startups, mergers are becoming more important. Uber just announced what it calls an industry-first partnership with Toast and Clover: Customers of these POS systems can now subscribe directly to Uber Eats through their POS machines. Self-enrollment product integration is now available for Toast and Clover customers in the US and Canada.
In other Uber news, Uber has partnered with Visa to launch a grant program for restaurants still struggling in the wake of the pandemic (and may not have registered a coveted restaurant relief fund). The $1 million Small and Medium Business Support Program has provided 100 grants of $10,000 to Uber partners in 10 US cities, with preference given to veteran business owners, minorities, women, and LGBT business owners.
DoorDash customers can add alcohol pairs to an order
While you’ve been able to order alcohol through DoorDash for a long time — a feature that was especially popular during the height of the pandemic — now, for the first time, you’ll be able to add alcohol to your food delivery order from outside the restaurant of your choice.
Drinks with DoubleDash is an extension of the grocery and alcohol delivery programs added by third-party delivery companies, and allows customers to add wine, beer, or liquor to their order at a nearby grocery or grocery store — all in the same order.
It’s another example of DoorDash’s attempt to increase average tickets from customers and expand their repertoire to be more than an app for scrolling through dinner delivery options.
The Jamba robot booth gets a makeover
Jamba by Blendid robotic kiosks are popping up in malls and funky locations everywhere, and now the juice making kiosk is being renovated with artificial intelligence. Gestalt Brand Lab’s creative team is making Jamba by Blendid friendlier, more stylish and increasing customer interaction with a new design.
The robot now has googly eyes, and can dance and wave. Gamba hopes the warm personality will increase customer interaction and (hopefully) sales:
“Our goal with the creative work of Jamba by Blendid was to develop a unique consumer offering found only in robotic kiosks, engaging consumers with a fun and Instagram-worthy experience,” Gestalt Brand Lab Director Brian Mons said in a statement.
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