Restaurant Execs Optimistic About AI Impact

More than half of respondents (54 percent) expressed optimism about the positive impact of AI in the restaurant industry, according to a survey from Despite this optimism, less than one-third of operators currently utilize AI indicating untapped potential for technological integration within the industry. A promising 71.6 percent of restaurant operators plan to adopt AI soon, with nearly 94 percent acknowledging its necessity to remain competitive.

Other highlights include:

  • Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) believe AI can improve the overall guest experience.
  • In addition, respondents acknowledged AI's potential to address various challenges faced by the restaurant industry, such as staffing issues, service quality management, and rising costs. And, as the restaurant industry navigates the complexities of a post-pandemic world, AI emerged as a potential solution to drive issues that greatly impacted this industry during the last four years– from operational efficiencies, cost controls, and competitive differentiation.
  • Overall, the survey results underscore the need for tailored AI solutions that address the unique challenges faced by restaurant operators, while also providing guidance for overcoming barriers to adoption.

"As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, the integration of AI is a crucial and pivotal point of this progression. With a significant number of operators signaling their intention to incorporate this transformative technology, we are excited for the future of the hospitality industry," said Alex Sambvani, founder and CEO of "Embracing AI signifies a shift towards customer-centricity, where innovative solutions can cater to each and every customer – from automated interactions, seamless reservations, instant inquiries, and beyond – all converging to place the customer firmly at the heart of the restaurant experience."

The AI-powered phone answering platform built for restaurants and hospitality partner conducted the survey of owners, general managers, and C-suite executives to gain valuable insights into the current state of AI adoption among restaurant operators, identify emerging trends, and provide actionable recommendations to help businesses thrive in an increasingly competitive industry with rising costs.

To gain more insights, Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine reached out to Sambvani.

How are restaurants using AI now?

Currently, restaurants are leveraging AI in various aspects of their operations, including customer service, marketing, operations management, and data analysis. AI-powered solutions such as chatbots, voice assistants, predictive analytics, and automation tools are being utilized to streamline processes, enhance guest experiences, and drive business growth. Additionally, we asked operators to list what AI solutions they have researched and many could not specify any tools. 

The survey found less than a third are currently using AI, but higher percentages anticipate turning to AI- how soon do you expect that third to become two thirds?

The rapid pace of technological advancement and the increasing recognition of AI's potential to revolutionize the restaurant industry suggest that the adoption rate will accelerate in the coming years. While it's challenging to predict an exact timeline, we anticipate significant growth in AI adoption within the next two to five years, leading to a substantial increase in the proportion of restaurants leveraging AI technologies.

Alex Sambvani
What results surprised you?

One surprising result was the level of optimism and readiness among restaurant operators to embrace AI despite the current adoption rates. The survey revealed a strong willingness to explore AI solutions and an understanding of its transformative potential, indicating a shift towards a more technology-driven approach within the industry.

What kind of restaurant functions are restaurant owners considered using AI as a tool to be more efficient?

Restaurant owners are considering AI to optimize various functions, including customer service, inventory management, menu optimization, personalized marketing, staff scheduling, and reservation management. These AI-driven solutions enable restaurants to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and deliver exceptional guest experiences while reducing costs and increasing profitability.

What are some examples of how AI will be used to enable restaurants to be more competitive?

AI will empower restaurants to enhance competitiveness by enabling them to personalize guest experiences, optimize menu offerings, improve operational efficiency, and make data-driven decisions. For example, AI-powered chatbots can provide instant responses to customer inquiries, predictive analytics can forecast demand and optimize inventory levels, and machine learning algorithms can analyze customer preferences to tailor marketing campaigns.

As consumers seek personalized experiences and greater efficiency, restaurants are turning to AI solutions to meet these evolving expectations.

What are key challenges of restaurant operators adopting more AI?

One key challenge is the perceived complexity and cost associated with implementing AI solutions, especially for small and independent restaurants with limited resources and technical expertise. Additionally, concerns about data privacy, integration with existing systems, and resistance to change among staff may hinder adoption. However, with proper education, support, and accessible AI solutions, these challenges can be overcome.

What role does customer demand play in the expansion of AI use in restaurants?

Customer demand is a key driver in the expansion of AI use in restaurants. As consumers seek personalized experiences and greater efficiency, restaurants are turning to AI solutions to meet these evolving expectations. By leveraging AI to anticipate customer needs and deliver seamless service, restaurants can differentiate themselves in a competitive market and foster customer loyalty. AI serves as the solution to address these changing demands, enabling restaurants to enhance customer experiences and stay ahead of the curve.