A leading autonomous pizza machine developer is teaming up with an international pizza brand run by world-renowned chef Anthony Carron. The pandemic has been a boon for autonomous dining as takeout culture and convenience remain priorities. Restaurants have struggled to adapt to the labor demands and unpredictability of the new paradigm. Delivery options open up new opportunities to meet customers where they are, but maintaining quality is paramount. At 800 Degrees the team believed they needed to do more to future-proof the brand, and Chef Carron saw the promise of automation when a trusted industry colleague, Massimo Noja De Marco, reached out to discuss Piestro, his automated pizza venture.
A company that's bringing gourmet pizza to a vending machine near you is adding a new high tech quirk to its quick-serve process. Piestro, which has developed an automated artisan pizza concept, is partnering with PopID, which develops facial recognition payment technology, to offer pizza you pay for with your pretty mug. As I wrote last year when Piestro launched its robotically prepared pizza concept, vending machine pizza isn't such a far fetched concept in the age of fresh-tossed salad from a robot named Sally and a really good pull of espresso from one of Cafe X's robotic baristas. Automation in food preparation was gaining steam even before COVID-19, although there were some telltale disappointments. Zume, an automated end-to-end pizza restaurant and delivery service that primarily used robots instead of humans, once had a $4 billion valuation but shut down its robot-powered pizza business, laid off more than half its staff, and is shifting focus to autonomous packaging.
Will people really want to get their pizza from a robotic vending machine, as a new food automation company called Piestro is betting? The best telepresence hardware to go beyond video conferencing and make remote work truly collaborative. As anyone who pays attention to the food and beverage space can attest, the age of non-sucky vending machine food is coming. Depending on where you live, you may already be able to get a fresh-tossed salad from a robot named Sally and a really good pull of espresso from one of Cafe X's robotic baristas. Automation in food preparation is hardly new.
Not so long ago that would have sounded like a joke, but kiosk concepts are proliferating amid a wave of investment in touch free food concepts. Basil Street, which raised $10 million last year, is turning to crowd funding to increase its distribution of Automated Pizza Kitchens. The company, which has received NSF and UL certification, plans to have about 50 APKs placed across the country by fall 2021 and aims to expand to up to 100 APKs by year end. Locations targeted for kiosk placement include universities, airports, and other high-traffic areas, further illustrating the growth potential and customer interest surrounding the technology. Of course, it has some competition.
A robot-powered mobile pizzeria is set to launch in Los Angeles in 2022. We've heard this idea before -- pair robot-created pizza with mobile delivery -- and it ended in disaster. Will this version take off? It just might, and the timing could be a key ingredient. Zume Pizza, once reportedly valued at a somewhat ludicrous $2 billion, learned that lesson the hard way, closing up its robotic pizza business in early 2020 and laying off more than 100 employees.