It's official: the robots are here to stay. Another fast food restaurant has opted to place a robot cook in the back of house, marking a swift and dramatic shift away from humans in fast food.
This week's update comes via Wing Zone, which offers made-to-order chicken wings. This chain is partnering with Miso Robotics to make Flippy 2 a part of its standard build for all future restaurant locations. This is significant in that it goes well beyond the trials and testbeds we've seen before, and it suggests a much broader commitment to automated fry cooks going forward.
"With over 100 new shops in our current development pipeline, our technology roadmap relies heavily on strategic partnerships with companies like Miso, a pioneer in the field of food automation, that has the knowledge, data and resources to design robotics solutions that maximize our efficiency and provide a better overall customer experience," said David Bloom, Chief Development and Operating Officer of Wing Zone.
"Our industry is in dire need of automation, and we are more than ready to deploy it at scale to continue growing our business," he added.
One of the big draws for national brands at this early adoption stage is Miso's strategy of customization. The company recently partnered with Chipotle's culinary team to replicate Chipotle's exact recipe to cook chips that are indistinguishable from human made counterparts.
The sales pitch is fairly straightforward: Miso's robot can alleviate inefficiencies in the back of house while ensuring consistent quality and brand-specific customization. Fast casual concepts like White Castle, which is expanding its rollout of Flippy 2 to 100 locations, have bought in to the ROI argument, particularly in a tight labor market and with wages rising. Fast food did well during the pandemic, and chains are looking to invest heavily in growth.
Miso's journey, which we've covered since the company came out of stealth, has been fun to watch. The company did a non-traditional crowdfunding campaign and is primarily funded by individual investors. It boasts over 15,000 shareholders and a whopping $50M in crowdfunding to date. Its E round gives it a market valuation of $500 million.
"We couldn't be more excited to announce a truly groundbreaking partnership with Wing Zone to incorporate back-of-house automation into all of its future restaurants from this point forward," said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. "No other brand has accepted automation to this degree, and we don't take their trust in us lightly. We want to establish Wing Zone as the franchise of the future, and this is just the first step in doing so."