Delivery Robots and the Drive-Thru of the Future … Now

The TGIF version of MRM’s Daily Bite features news from Freedonia Focus Reports,  Beyond Meat,  Long John Silver’s, Toast and Hotel Jen.
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Restaurant and Foodservice Forecast

US restaurant and foodservice revenues are forecast to total $990 billion in 2021, according to Restaurants & Foodservice: United States, a report recently released by Freedonia Focus Reports. Increases in the population and disposable personal income will drive overall gains in restaurant and foodservice revenues. Consumers are expected to dine out more often and purchase higher-priced offerings as their incomes rise. 

Revenues from fast casual restaurants, the fastest growing service segment, will see gains as millennials obtain higher incomes, supporting sales of higher-priced menu options. Additionally, new restaurant concepts will further drive sales among this key demographic.

These and other  insights are featured in Restaurants & Foodservice: United States. This report forecasts U.S. restaurant and foodservice revenues in nominal U.S. dollars to 2021. Total revenues are segmented by service category in terms of:

  • full service restaurants
  • quick service restaurants
  • fast casual restaurants
  • snack, bakery, and coffee shops
  • bars and taverns
  • buffets and cafeterias
  • other foodservice providers such as contract management companies

More information about the report is available here.

Beyond Burger Popularity

Beyond Burger® from plant-based leader, Beyond Meat®, has experienced explosive growth in recent months, mirroring a growing consumer trend around plant-based meats and better-for-you food options. In September, The Beyond Burger was selected as part of Sysco’s Cutting Edge Solutions program and since then, has been added to the menu at more than 2,000 new food service outlets including restaurants, hotels, college campuses and professional sports teams’ training camps.

“In the first three months, we’ve sold more than 20,000 Beyond Burgers which equates to about 10 percent of burger/sandwich sales and is exceeding our sales expectations. Those numbers continue to grow each week,” said David Friedman, Founder & CEO of Epic Burger in meat-centric Chicago.

Nationwide, The Beyond Burger is now available in more than 5,000 restaurants and grocery stores.

As distribution of The Beyond Burger rapidly increases, Beyond Meat partners include:


  • BurgerFi: The first national burger concept to carry The Beyond Burger, BurgerFi is focused on sustainable, quality ingredients. BurgerFi offers both a vegan and non-vegan build to appeal to all consumer preferences at their more than 100 locations nationwide.
  • iPic Theaters: The Beyond Burger is soft launching at the iPic’s Dallas, Austin, Houston and Chicago locations in late 2017, with an expected roll out to all 16 iPic locations in 2018.
  • Twin Peaks Restaurant: Sports-focused Twin Peaks is satisfying hearty appetites by serving The Beyond Burger at their more than 80 locations nationwide.


  • CalPoly, San Luis Obispo
  • Central College
  • College of William & Mary
  • Columbia
  • Duke
  • Florida State University
  • Grinnell College
  • James Madison University
  • Kirkwood College
  • Northwestern
  • Notre Dame
  • Old Dominion University
  • Portland University
  • Principia
  • San Jose State University
  • Stanford
  • The College of Wooster
  • Yale


  • BOA Steakhouse (2 locations in Los Angeles)
  • CHARburger, Fresno
  • Delilah, Los Angeles
  • Golden Road Brewery (2 locations in Los Angeles)
  • Hamburger Mary’s, West Hollywood
  • Modern Times Brewery, San Diego
  • Next Level Burger (4 locations throughout Oregon and Washington)
  • The Hotel Congress, Tucson
  • Tipsy Cow (2 locations in Los Angeles)
  • Treasure Island Hotel Las Vegas, The Coffee Shop
  • Union Public House, Tucson
  • Veggie Grill (30 locations throughout California, Oregon and Washington)
  • Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Las Vegas


  • Burger Study, Indianapolis
  • Christopher’s Kitchen, Palm Beach Gardens
  • Cider Press Café, St. Petersburg
  • Cody’s Original Roadhouse (15 locations throughout Florida)
  • Duluth Grill, Minnesota
  • Empire Burgers & Brew, Naperville
  • Epic Burger (8 locations throughout Chicago)
  • Morels Café, Louisville
  • The Moonlighter, Chicago


  • Chelo’s Hometown Bar & Grille (8 locations throughout Rhode Island)
  • P.S. Kitchen, NYC
  • Tattooed Mom, Philadelphia
  • The Distillery, NYC
  • The Hamilton Inn, Jersey City
  • The Regal, Brooklyn
  • The Steer, Buffalo
  • The Tipsy Turtle (3 locations throughout Pennsylvania)
  • Tops Diner, Harrison
The Drive-Thru of the Future

Long John Silver’s plans ti install the most technologically-advanced digital drive-thru platforms in the restaurant industry, laying the groundwork for a fully automated drive-thru in the future.  Up to 400 Long John Silver’s flagship units will be transformed over the next two years, with the new platform that includes three 55-inch, high-definition video screens, high-definition audio and a computer platform that will dramatically improve the ordering process for Long John Silver’s customers. Long John Silver’s partnered with Allure, a division of Christie Digital Systems USA, for this next step in the legendary brand’s revitalization and transformation program.Drive Thru of the Future

“We have made tremendous progress in revitalizing Long John Silver’s,” said James O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer. “As we transform and update our restaurant base over the next two years, we want to make a bold statement to our drive-thru customers. More than half our sales occur at the drive-thru and we want our customers to enjoy that experience with the best technology available.”

The Allure platform provides digital order confirmation and full-color, high-resolution animation, video and graphics for an engaging and interesting experience for customers. Importantly, the new system allows for quick updates of menus and promotional updates. Promoted specials can be linked to historical sales trends, special events and local weather forecasts.

“Allure’s drive-thru digital signage provides accurate information and engaging food displays while delivering a positive drive-thru experience for Long John Silver’s,” said Craig Chapin, President of Allure. “The data-driven digital signage installed outside the leading seafood restaurant chain is proven to increase ROI, reduce operating costs, and enhance guest experience,” he added.

Toast Wins Fast 500 Accolade

Toast was ranked third on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy technology companies in North America. This is the company’s first year on the prestigious list.

“We’re experiencing yet another exceptional year at Toast, all thanks to our loyal customers, employees, partners and investors,” said Chris Comparato, CEO of Toast. “Our team is thrilled to be recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. and will continue to deliver on our promise to be obsessed with customer success. Without our restaurant clients and industry-leading team, we could not have been ranked third on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™.”

In other news, Toast announced new integrations with SynergySuite and Yellow Dog Software. The SynergySuite integration enables customers to combine data from Toast’s robust point of sale system with SynergySuite’s restaurant management software, creating a seamless operating solution with breakthrough intelligence and algorithms. Toast and Yellow Dog now offer recipe management, physical inventory, and food costing analysis capabilities.  

Through this partnership, SynergySuite equips Toast customers with a full set of mobile tools. SynergySuite’s online platform uses POS order data to help streamline back office operations and improve profitability through intelligent purchasing recommendations, optimized staff scheduling, and food safety monitoring.

Additional benefits of the Toast and SynergySuite integration include:

  • Lowered food costs with optimized inventory and purchasing: suggested ordering, full recipe management, automatic purchasing, and invoice processing
  • Reduced overtime/overstaffing costs with time and attendance: manage shift swaps and approvals, maintain compliance, staff records and onboarding checklists
  • Increased food safety procedure monitoring: HACCP compliance reporting, temperature monitoring alerts, and cleaning schedule reminders
  • Expanded sales analysis and cash management capabilities: real-time business intelligence, daily P&L reports, cash tracking, transaction reconciliation, and variance alerts

Yellow Dog pulls sales data from Toast’s database and deducts inventory based on recipe setup. This sync is usable from any location with Toast access. Additional features include:

  • Full item and recipe management, waste tracking and purchasing
  • Vendor EDI integration and invoice export to accounting systems like Quickbooks and more
  • Easy single or multi-unit operations management
  • Turnkey implementation, 24/7 in-house support and free training for life
  • More than 200 customizable reports available, including “actual versus theoretical” reporting
Delivery Robots in Asia

Hotel Jen welcomed its newest mobile and automated colleagues, Jeno and Jena, as the first international hotel brand to use autonomous Relay robots in Asia. Jeno and Jena will independently zip around Hotel Jen Orchardgateway and Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore to deliver amenities and room service to guests. 

Both Jeno and Jena are one-meter (about three feet) tall and are unmistakable in their bright Hotel Jen turquoise and pink uniforms featuring a signature bicycle image to evoke a sense of travel. Inspired by the concept of a butler, Toby Tan  from the art community Band of Doodlers designed a jacket and tie for Jeno and a scarf for Jena.

Jeno and Jena can move unmanned around the hotel at a safe speed of 2.5 kilometers per hour (about 1.5 miles per hour), about half the average human walking speed. They can ride elevators, make phone calls to rooms upon arrival, and are equipped with sensors that know to avoid obstacles in its path and make deliveries efficiently.

Both automated colleagues are integrated with a software system that can easily track their to-do list once an order is placed. If a guest orders an extra towel or bottle of water, the guest can expect one of the pair to deliver the items within 15 minutes from the time of request. Jeno and Jena can ease midnight hunger pangs with a supper menu featuring local flavors from midnight to 6 a.m.

How they work:

  • Jeno and Jena are stationed in the hotel lobby on standby 24/7 to carry out deliveries.
  • Guests can request for amenities or room service from the supper menu by telephoning the hotel’s front office.
  • Upon receiving an order, the requested amenity, food item or drink is prepared and placed in the robot’s compartment.
  • A hotel colleague unlocks the robot’s compartment with a pin number, places the items inside, and keys in the guest’s room number for delivery.
  • Once the room number is keyed in, the robot travels to the hotel’s elevator landing, enters the elevator and travels to the correct floor and room.
  • Once the robot arrives at the designated room, the robot calls the room to alert the guest about the delivery. When the guest opens the room door, the robot’s compartment lid automatically opens. (After arrival, the robot waits five minutes before returning to the duty manager in the lobby.)
  • When a delivery is completed, the guest presses “All Set” and can rate the stay experience from one to five stars. If the guest selects five stars, the robot displays “Yay!” and dances side-to-side in excitement.
  • Once the delivery is complete, the robot returns to the docking station in the lobby.

“Hotel Jen is proud to be the first brand in the Shangri-La group to introduce this technology,” said Cetin Sekercioglu, executive vice president of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. “The new “colleagues” will be great team players, get important things done well and deliver in Jen’s distinctive style. Known to curate playful experiences, Hotel Jen, through the Relay robots, yet again proves that it can surprise and delight urban adventure-seekers.”