Robot-prepped pizza at 800 Degrees

How do you future-proof a pizza brand? Cater to takeout and delivery.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

A leading autonomous pizza machine developer is teaming up with an international pizza brand run by world-renowned chef Anthony Carron. 800 Degrees Pizza will be offering consumers a fully automated experience and an authentic, custom pizza recipe designed for robotic cooking technology that's eager to move on the market in the near future.

The pandemic has been a boon for autonomous dining as takeout culture and convenience remain priorities. Restaurants have struggled to adapt to the labor demands and unpredictability of the new paradigm. Delivery options open up new opportunities to meet customers where they are, but maintaining quality is paramount. At 800 Degrees the team believed they needed to do more to future-proof the brand, and Chef Carron saw the promise of automation when a trusted industry colleague, Massimo Noja De Marco, reached out to discuss Piestro, his automated pizza venture.

"When Massimo and I first connected about Piestro's technology, I saw both the immediate and long-term impact automation could have on our business," said Carron. "Knowing Massimo's exceptional background and the emphasis he places on quality and consistency in his machines, I knew this was a partnership we needed to make happen. We immediately began the process of developing recipes using the same imported, fresh and flavorful ingredients that made 800 Degrees Pizza so successful, and we were off to the races."

Piestro is definitely putting technology first. It recently partnered with PopID, which develops facial recognition payment technology. As I wrote last year when Piestro launched its robotically prepared pizza concept, vending machine pizza isn't such a far fetched concept in the age of fresh-tossed salad from a robot named Sally and a really good pull of espresso from one of Cafe X's robotic baristas. Automation in food preparation was gaining steam even before COVID-19, although there were some telltale disappointments. 

Zume, an automated end-to-end pizza restaurant and delivery service that primarily used robots instead of humans, once had a $4 billion valuation but shut down its robot-powered pizza business, laid off more than half its staff, and is shifting focus to autonomous packaging. However, Zume's model was built on delivery, a tricky logistical stack of cards. Automated vending machines, however, are a model that's been around for more than half-a-century, and tapping into existing brands and infrastructure, which is what the Piestro and 800 Degrees partnership are all about, is a savvy growth strategy (and much easier than creating a pizza brand from scratch).

"This partnership is a clear indicator of the interest and potential for automation within the pizza industry," said De Marco, CEO of Piestro. "I've known Chef Carron for years, and he exemplifies the spirit of operators dedicated to their craft, committed to delivering customers an unforgettable dining experience. The contactless cooking capabilities, fresh taste, speed and consistency that our automation and breakthrough oven technology bring are perfectly aligned with the values of 800 Degrees Pizza to provide customers with an exceptional culinary experience. We can't wait to give customers everywhere access to an international pizza brand with a robotic twist."

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