We’ve been closely following the rise of pizza robots, both as delivery vehicles and automatic cooks in the kitchen, so news that Stellar Pizza announced a $16.5 million funding round backed by the venture capital firm Jay-Z’s venture, Marcy Venture Partners, came as no surprise. The automated pizza truck company just launched in Los Angeles this fall, offering a new way to serve pizza on wheels with a small staff.
Stellar’s pizza robots aren’t the only AI chefs in town: Karakuri is a London-based robot from company FRYR that can automate lines of quick-service fried food. Sounds familiar? Karakuri reminds us of the Flippy robot from Miso Robotics, which has already been implemented in several major restaurant brands. Will Karakuri provide some friendly competition?
Tech Tracker summarizes what’s happening in the technology 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 a $16.5 million funding round for Stellar Pizza
Although the robotic pizza truck company, Stellar Pizza, has yet to launch, the food service technology company founded by SpaceX engineers already has $25.5 million in investments under its hood.
In addition to a previous $9 million fundraising investment from Root Ventures, Stellar Pizza announced on Oct. 3 a $16.5 million Series A funding round led by Jay-Z’s venture capital firm Marcy Venture Partners. With this funding, Stellar Pizza founder Benson Tsai said they will be able to make “strategic investments” ahead of the company’s imminent launch at the University of Southern California, soon to be followed by other college campuses.
Stellar Pizza’s robotic arms can lift and press a ball of dough, prepare ingredients based on customer requests, and then move the pie to the built-in pizza oven, where it’s ready in two and a half minutes. .
Marcy Venture Partners has also invested in Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie brand, plant-based chicken nugget company Simulate and allergen-free cookie maker Partake.
Karakuri is another fried robot on the market
Karakuri is giving Miso Robotics’ Flippy the fry cook some healthy competition with its new fry line automation technology from London-based robot company FRYR. Karakuri is available in both the US and Europe for $2,100 and can cook 130 pounds of fries in an 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 how many French fries are needed to meet restaurant demand, and can also save energy and oil usage. The product will be installed in quick service and casual restaurants around the world sometime in the next few months.
“The FRYR210 is the first in a family of fry line solutions,” said Barney Wragg, CEO of FRYR in a statement. “We will expand the FRYR range in the future to support a variable number of fry wells and freezers to help meet the cost and capacity demands of each restaurant.”
Inaugurated the first Taco Bell with an 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 vehicle charging station in its parking lot. Franchisees are partnering with ChargeNet Stations to create a comfortable spot for six EV cars (and their owners) at once to fuel up “with a charge and a dinghy” beginning Tuesday. October 18.
“I think there’s a lot of demand for this,” Tom Douglas, chief operating officer of the Diversified Restaurant Group, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “I think it will drive more traffic and offer more options for customers. […] We offer the perfect place for people looking for a quick 20-minute charge and a bite to eat too.”
In the future, Diversified Restaurant Group plans to add charging stations at more of its restaurants, and Taco Bell will add EV charging units at up to 120 more Taco Bells in California.
Grubhub now partners with GoPuff
Although we had previously speculated that convenience store delivery company GoPuff could make the food delivery giants compete for their money, it seems that now they are working together. Earlier this month, GoPuff announced a partnership with. Offering your selection of convenience store products, from Pampers to pet supplies, Grubhub at the Grubhub Marketplace in select markets in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Austin.
Grubhub will also partner with GoPuff to offer its network of alcohol delivery partners, as well as its virtual brands, including Mean Tomato. Grubhub+ members will get free delivery on these items just like they would their regular restaurant delivery orders.
“The expansion of Gopuff’s platform allows us to meet the immediate needs of consumers wherever they shop,” Daniel Folkman, Gopuff’s senior vice president of business, said in a statement. “By combining our extensive assortment, logistics network and infrastructure with Grubhub’s virtual storefronts, we can create more seamless one-stop shopping experiences for Gopuff’s unparalleled one-stop shopping experience.”
Uber now integrates with Toast and Clover
As more tech companies continue to pop up, raise funds, and acquire other software startups, integrations become more crucial. Uber just announced what it calls an industry-first partnership with Toast and Clover: Customers of these POS systems can now sign up directly for Uber Eats through their point-of-sale devices. The self-registration product integration is available now 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 that are still struggling in the aftermath of the pandemic (and may not have gotten a coveted Restaurant Relief Fund). The $1 Million Small Business Support Program awarded 100 $10,000 grants to Uber partners in 10 US cities, with a preference for veterans, minorities, women, and LGBTQIA+ business owners.
DoorDash customers can add alcoholic beverage combinations to an order
While you’ve long been able to order alcohol through DoorDash — a feature that was particularly popular during the height of the pandemic — now, for the first time, you’ll be able to add alcohol to a food delivery order from outside your restaurant of choice. .
Drinks with DoubleDash is an extension of the grocery and alcohol delivery programs that third-party delivery companies have been adding, and allows customers to add a wine, beer or spirits pairing to their order from a nearby liquor store, convenience store convenience store or a grocery store, and everything will come in the same order.
It’s yet another example of DoorDash trying to increase the average customer ticket and expand its repertoire to be more than just an app for scrolling through dinner delivery options.
Jamba’s robot kiosk gets a makeover
Jamba by Blendid robotic kiosks have been popping up in malls and non-traditional venues around the world, and now the AI smoothie kiosk is getting a makeover. The creative team at Gestalt Brand Lab is making Jamba by Blendid friendlier, more enjoyable and increasing customer engagement with a new design.
The robot now has googly eyes and can dance and wave. Jamba hopes the warmer 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 only found on robotic kiosks, engaging consumers with a fun, Instagram-worthy experience,” said Gestalt Brand Lab CEO. , Brian Munce, in a statement.