Restaurants prep for long-term labor crunch by turning to robots to work the fryer, shuttle food to tables

At Inspire Brands’ Innovation Center in Atlanta, the Flippy robot is taking on a new challenge. The automated worker, made by Miso Robotics, first came onto the scene as a burger solution. Now, it’s frying wings for the first time.

The bots, known as Flippy 1 and 2, have been in development for nearly five years, taking on pilots at brands such as CaliBurger and White Castle. The wings iteration is being tested at Inspire’s Buffalo Wild Wings brand as a way to ramp up production and speed. The hope is to scale up its usage in 2022 and beyond.

“Our strategy and our vision for automation at Inspire is really not about the labor shortage, it is all about how we increase our capacity,” said Stephanie Sentell, SVP of restaurant operations and innovation at Inspire. “The automation that we are looking at will allow us to unlock that and provide faster food to our guests.”

Miso Robotics Flippy Restaurant robots

Flippy robots at their stations.Courtesy: Miso Robotics

But the labor shortage is unavoidable. The National Restaurant Association recently reported that 4 in 5 operators are understaffed. This includes 81% of full-service operators and 75% of limited-service operators. Robotics can help ease the staffing challenges and speed up operations.

A fix for the fry station

Miso said its Flippy 2 can help fill a tough role in kitchens — the fry station.

“The fry station is one of those jobs, it’s tough to do,” said Mike Bell, Miso Robotics CEO. “It’s monotonous, sometimes it’s dangerous, and it’s pretty repetitive. So it was a perfect opportunity for automation robotics to step in and help brands like Buffalo Wild Wings.”

The robot can cost up to $3,000 a month. Miso expects to participate in a dozen pilots with top restaurant chains in the next few months.

Source: CNBC