Future Tech in 2023

Miso Robotics provides intelligent automation solutions for foodservice that solve some critical back-of-house kitchen operations. The AI-driven platform incorporates robotics, machine learning, computer vision and data analytics. The company's flagship product line includes Flippy 2, CookRight and Sippy. Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine asked Jake Brewer, Miso's Chief Strategy Officer for his views on the present and future of increased robotics and automation use in restaurants. 

What impact did the pandemic have on the implementation of robotics in restaurants? 

While our pipeline has always been immensely strong, even pre-pandemic, the current labor environment has significantly increased interest in Miso solutions. With our partnerships, we’ve had the opportunity to create, pilot, and implement more automated solutions that are ideal to serve the needs of our partners.  Restaurant operators know better than everyone that this current labor challenge is not going away.  

What myths about increased automation/robotics are there still? 

There are continued beliefs that automation and robotics will take away jobs, which is just a myth. Prior to the pandemic, restaurant jobs – especially those back-of house – have seen high turnover rates. Since 2020, there’s an all-time high number of open positions and a lack of labor.  
Across the U.S., restaurants are operating with 2.8 fewer employees in the front-of-house and 6.2 fewer employees in the back-of-house – something that’s making meeting customer service expectations and revenue targets almost impossible (Black Box Intelligence, 2021). The delivery, takeout and drive-thru-first culture also exploded, and with it came an increased demand for speed, quality and consistency.    
Our technology streamlines operations, provides a better customer experience and establishes an overall improvement and stability to the business. 

Is there any resistance to increased automation/use of robotics in restaurants? 

Yes, there is some resistance to increased automation and use of robotics in restaurants. However, intelligent automation is an amazing tool that will not only help operators, but the workers as well. Repetitive and hazardous tasks like manning the fryer aren’t roles that attract workers. And, even when they do, the turnover rate is so rapid that operators are in a continuous loop of hiring and training new staff.    
Solutions like Flippy and Sippy are there to supplement and support existing systems and staff – not take jobs away.  So, for the workers who are there day in and day out, their jobs get easier. And for operators, there’s suddenly a better, promotable work environment to attract talent.   

What other restaurant technology trends are you seeing? 

We’re seeing more restaurants piloting and deploying automated solutions for back-of-house operations. We’re also seeing changes in front-of-house and drive-thrus with more sophisticated kiosks that can make fresh food or take your order respectively, with just the touch of a button.  
Looking ahead, big brands will feel more comfortable dipping their toe into true future tech and fully automating certain aspects of the restaurant kitchen and beyond. 

How would you describe Miso’s 2022? 

Miso has made incredible strides in 2022. We’ve seen significant momentum in the past year through our partnerships with some of the biggest global QSR brands, including White Castle, top photo, Chipotle, Jack in the Box, Panera, Buffalo Wild Wings, Wing Zone and Wings and Rings.  
Our brand continues to live up to our vision and mission to create the commercial kitchen of the future by applying AI, automation and robotics to address the challenges plaguing the industry and create a safer and better place to work for team members and a more seamless dining experience for our guests.

Where do you see the most potential for robotic use in 2023? (What’s next for Miso?) 

In 2023, restaurants will focus on scaling and adoption.  We are past the point where it’s a question if robotics and automation are going to be implemented, but rather where in the kitchen. The drink station and the fryers are where we are starting in a big way as they have operationally the largest potential impact to the restaurant.  

Top photo courtesy of Miso Robotics