Food Business News - June 12, 2018 - 14

Technology, trends redefining
future of food service

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Food Business News

opping up across the country are "virtual restaurants," kitchen-only operations where
food is prepared for delivery. The trend underscores a shift in consumer dining patterns;
they crave chef-prepared dishes but are losing interest in eating at restaurants, according to several speakers at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.
"The basic definition of what constitutes a restaurant in America today is changing," said
Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the research and knowledge group at the National
Restaurant Association. "As the industry continues to move to a greater portion of off-premises sales, the business model of a traditional restaurant is
going to change for a lot of these new entrants."
Despite various challenges, restaurant industry sales
last year increased 3.8% over the prior year to a record high
of nearly $800 billion, Mr. Riehle said. Full-service restaurant sales climbed 3.5% to $263 billion, while quick-service
restaurant sales grew 5.3% to $234 billion, he said.
Takeout, delivery and food trucks are driving industry growth, Mr. Riehle noted.
"Sixty-three per cent of all restaurant traffic is off-premises, and that proportion has increased as the years have
passed," he said, adding that the off-premises market "only
becomes more important over the decade ahead."
Pressured by rising labor costs and high rates of turnover, operators are adopting new
forms of technology to keep pace with demand for convenience. Most consumers agree
technology in restaurants contributes to quicker service, improved order accuracy and a
more engaging experience, Mr. Riehle said.
Cutting-edge concepts on display at the 2018 N.R.A. Show, held May 19-22 in Chicago,
demonstrated the latest advancements in restaurant technology. Cali Group, a retail technology holding company, is testing various innovations at CaliBurger restaurant in Pasadena, Calif., including a burger-flipping robot and self-order kiosks with facial recognition capabilities.
"Guests can walk up to a kiosk and quickly pull up their past ordering history and pay
with their face," said John Miller, founder of CaliBurger and Cali Group. "We think we're the
first in America to do that."
Bear Robotics, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, unveiled an autonomous food
runner that may be programmed to memorize a dining room layout. The machine is not
intended to replace employees but to enhance customer service and interaction, said John
Ha, founder and chief executive officer of Bear Robotics.
"We cannot eliminate the human touch in a restaurant," Mr. Ha said. "You don't want to
dine in a factory." FBN

operational standpoint," he said.
For the restaurant modernizations,
the company is investing $1.5 billion in
2018 and a similar amount next year,
when the initiative will approach completion. Features of the Experience of the
Future include a self-order kiosk and cutfront counter. Mr. Easterbrook said about
a third of stores need full remodels, which
cost roughly $750,000, and two-thirds
need the Experience the Future enhancements, which cost roughly $160,000.
McDonald's contributes about 55% of the
capital toward the remodels with franchise owners covering the balance.
While describing the mobile app as
"great with a lot of very good value," Ms.
Senatore said integrating the app ought
to be the goal. Mr. Easterbrook agreed.

"We want one single ecosystem for
our customers," he said. "So no matter if
they want to come through the drivethru, order through a self-order kiosk,
have mobile order pay or home delivery,
they want to be treated as that one individual. So therefore, we have to blend the
technology platforms that we can engage
with them in one compelling way. That's
when you get the whole C.R.M. (customer
relationship management) platform,
your whole customer relationship management piece that becomes a lot more
compelling, so absolutely that's the goal."
Achieving such a goal is easier said
than done, Mr. Easterbrook said, citing
the "sheer volume of data" associated
with 69 million daily customers at
37,000 restaurants around the world. FBN
June 12, 2018

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