On June 27, he and Steven Frehn, a mechanical engineer, will open Creator, a San Francisco burger shop where a robot preps, cooks and assembles your meal. Creator is betting that robotic efficiency and consistency, combined with techniques borrowed from Michelin-star chefs, will lead to a better burger--for the relatively affordable price of $6. The restaurant is designed with the muted colors and clean lines of a luxury home-goods store. All the better to focus on the real stars: two 14-foot-long burger-making machines, each comprised of roughly 7,000 parts, including hundreds of sensors. Buns, tomatoes, onions, pickles, seasonings and sauces are stored in clear tubes, which sit over a copper conveyor belt on a wooden base carved into Zaha-Hadid-style swooping lines.
San Francisco is ground zero for tech companies, from social media to bioengineering. It's also a city obsessed with food, and often the first destination for international chains like Michelin-starred Tsuta Ramen to break into the U.S. market. It's an all-inclusive burger-making device that accomplishes every part of the burger's preparation, from slicing and toasting the brioche buns to grinding meat and searing the burger to order in five minutes. It's also an incredibly advanced engineering achievement. The team behind it includes an impressive lineup of engineers and roboticists from the pantheons of technology and user interaction like Apple, NASA, and Tesla.
"Growing up, my job was to make hundreds of the same burger over and over," says Alex Vardakostas, cofounder and CEO of Creator, the new restaurant, which is opening with a soft launch today. "I saw so many opportunities where I wanted to do it a bit better, slower, or more personalized, but it's impossible when you have to manually make that many burgers with rudimentary tools." As a college student, as Vardakostas used sophisticated instruments in a physics program, he began to wonder if similarly advanced tools could be used in restaurants. "We don't see it as a robot," Vardakostas. "I see it as the ultimate kitchen instrument.
As he grew older, he often played in the back of the kitchen among pallets of hamburger buns while his parents worked. At 8, he started filling drink orders, standing on top of a milk crate to reach the soda machine. Sometimes he ran food experiments, soaking burger meat in Worcestershire sauce to see if it would taste better. He learned snippets of Spanish from the line cooks, Apolinar and Ernie, and at 12 he started working beside them. Now 33, Vardakostas lives in San Francisco, and for the past nine years, he's been building a robot that can cook and assemble around 100 burgers an hour--keeping pace with a typical fast-food staff--with little human intervention.
Amazon Alexa is quite possibly one of the best things to ever happen to your smart home. The voice assistant is capable of quickly ordering pizza from Domino's or Pizza Hut, playing podcasts throughout your home, and even playing a quick game of Skyrim. It can help you find a date, or even sleep better with relaxing meditation and sleep machines with nature sounds. But did you know Alexa can also help you be a better parent to your child? There are a number of clever tips, tricks, and skills that you can tap into via Alexa which will help you navigate the unpredictable journey of parenthood.
This month's Tech Tracker takes a closer look at stealth AI tech used by TGI Fridays to personalize marketing Thank God, it's AI at TGI Fridays. While most casual-dining brands are betting big on customer-facing tablet technology, TGI Fridays is investing in artificial intelligence to harvest data that will drive diner frequency. Guests of the Dallas-based chain can now use a variety of social media platforms to place an order. From that customer interaction, TGI Fridays is using AI to identify ordering patterns, and that information is used to personalize marketing. If a guest order ribs through any of the platforms, for example, that data can be used to create future invitations based on that customer's food preferences, said Sherif Mityas, Fridays chief experience officer.
On this episode of On Foodable: Industry Pulse, we talk to Stephanie Cohen, head of sales for Resy, as she explains how the CRM platform helps restaurants better run their front of house operations. The company launched in New York City in 2014 and is co-founded by innovators and entrepreneurs Ben Leventhal, Michael Montero, and Gary Vaynerchuk. What sets Resy apart from other CRM platforms, aside from the diversity of tasks you can perform, is shared guest books within a restaurant group. "You can see the notes on a guest from the other restaurant that they went to a week ago, utilize that to make their experience better at the restaurant they're at today. And that just better serves hospitality to that guest, and continues to make them more loyal to your restaurant," said Cohen at the NRA Show 2018.
When her husband lost his factory job in 2010, Kristy Milland ran through her options. Until that point, she'd been working at home, earning extra money through odd jobs like selling collectables on eBay. She hadn't waited on tables, had no experience in fast food, and had not learned any skills that might be particularly useful in a factory. She'd once applied for a job at McDonald's, but nobody had called her for an interview. Jobs were more difficult to find in her hometown of Toronto since the beginning of the Great Recession.
Food tech is a booming industry and one that has witnessed some seriously staggering innovations that have completely transformed the food business. From hassle-free order placement to quick deliveries to curated options, the food tech space has everything covered. We spoke with José Daniel Leal Avila, CEO, and Founder at Foodstamp.tech, a promising young food tech brand, to shed light on the trends in the food tech space and to share valuable advice for businesses looking to startup in the food tech space. We started Foodstamp while studying for a project that involved understanding the issues that new restaurants faced. At the time, coincidentally, one of our favorite burger joints went out of business and we were puzzled as to why that happened.
With AI, "It's not just having the technology" but also "the deployed solution," says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He now runs his own firm, Evans Strategic Communications LLC.) CLOUD WARS -- As the AI Age takes hold, Microsoft has unleashed an AI strategy that's as complete and ambitious as any you'll find from any company in the world. It's already in place in fast-food restaurants and in manufacturing plants, and Microsoft is ahead of everyone in extending and unifying AI's capabilities from the cloud to the edge. But that enormous potential won't be realized unless AI takes its proper place within the ever-widening set of Azure-centered technologies and services within the Microsoft portfolio. "AI is going to be one of the trends that is going to be the next big shift in technology," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at a recent investor's conference.