Can a robot make your french fries just as easily as a person? Modern technology is making it possible for automation to replace human workers in food service positions such as hostess, cook and food delivery jobs.
It’s no secret that restaurants, like many businesses, have found themselves short-staffed during this post-pandemic climate in which it’s been difficult to hire and retain workers. Employing a ‘restaurant robot’ may be one approach to filling what are typically lower wage jobs and help owners adapt to a tight labor market and increased public demand.
Is automation the answer?
California-based Miso Robotics has developed one solution for keeping food moving in a high volume environment that can’t afford downtime due to worker absences. Its flagship product, the Flippy 2, not only has fried thousands of pounds of french fries, but using artificial intelligence (AI) vision, its technology is smart enough to tell the robot when to grab more food product from cold storage.
Automated food service workers like the Flippy 2 have gone mainstream. Major chains using restaurant robots include Wing Zone, Chipotle and White Castle and the concept is being introduced to KFC, Hardees and Pizza Hut franchisees. In Chipotle’s case, the restaurant is testing a Miso Robotics product to recreate the exact recipe for its salt- and lime juice-seasoned tortilla chips using AI.
Proponents of such technology point to benefits such as freeing workers from having to do boring and repetitive jobs, as well as greater product consistency.
No substitute for a human touch
Despite the efficiency and potential cost savings of restaurant automation, not everyone believes that the prospect of machines replacing human workers is positive. When robots fill orders, there is a loss of human connection and correcting any problems that arise with the order can become a headache. A robot also won’t be able to tell you its favorite dessert or recommend a great spot for live music.