White Castle seems to be all-in on its latest employee, a robotic fry cook. Flippy 2, the fast-food robot by Miso Robotics, will now be whipping up burgers and other food in 100 standalone locations.
The news is part of a larger shift underway in the quick-serve sector, driven in part by the demand for contactless service and in part by a tight labor market and rising wages toward automation. Just this week, in a similar move, Jamba announced it was strengthening its collaboration with Blendid, which makes a juice robot.
White Castle first trialed Miso's original Flippy robot in a Chicago-area location in 2020. The burger chain, which bills itself as the first hamburger fast-food chain in-country (it was founded in 1921), then rolled out a version of Flippy, Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR), to an additional 10 kitchens.
"Artificial intelligence and automation have been an area White Castle has wanted to experiment with to optimize our operations and provide a better work environment for our team members," said Lisa Ingram, CEO of White Castle, at the time. "We believe technology like Flippy ROAR can improve customer service and kitchen operation. This pilot is putting us on that path -- and we couldn't be more pleased to continue our work with Miso Robotics and pave the way for greater adoption of cutting-edge technology in the fast-food industry."
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The sales pitch by Miso is that its robot can alleviate inefficiencies in the back of house while ensuring consistent quality. Given the scope of the rollout, White Castle clearly deems the ROI equation valid.
"We could not be more grateful for the confidence White Castle has shown in us as we enter into the next phase of our partnership," said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. "White Castle was the first large brand to embrace our technology, and we are thrilled that our Flippy pilot made such a positive impact on their operations that they want to integrate 100 more. We can't wait to continue on this journey with such an outstanding partner."
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.