- 800 Degrees Pizza, a pizza brand with 16 locations worldwide, is partnering with robotic pizzeria concept Piestro to significantly accelerate its presence through Piestro's automated machines. According to a news release, the partnership will bring 3,600 "800 Degrees by Piestro" machines to the market over five years.
- The automated machines will future-proof the brand and maintain consistency as delivery and takeout business strains labor, 800 Degrees founder Anthony Carron said in the release.
- The partnership comes as automation increases in the restaurant space in response to a historically tight labor market and a pandemic-fueled rise in digitalization. According to data from the World Economic Forum, 50% of employers are expected to ramp up automation of some roles at their workplaces.
Those labor and digital factors are driving swift growth in the cooking robots market, which is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of over 16% through 2028. Sweetgreen just acquired automated restaurant company Spyce, for example, while Picnic introduced its new pizza robot in October, and Saladworks is growing its network with Chowbotics' robot.
Operational automation has even made its way to some of the bigger players. White Castle is rolling out more Flippy robots in its kitchens, while McDonald's is testing deep-frying robots and automated beverage equipment.
An automated vending-like machine that cooks pizzas likely requires significantly less capital than a traditional brick-and-mortar unit, and allows 800 Degrees to expand into smaller, non-traditional locations. That said, 800 Degrees' expansion plan with Piestro is still significant.
Such a goal illustrates not only the concept's confidence in the machine's ability to translate its food and experience, but also that consumers are ready for such an experience. It's one thing to order fries from a drive-thru cooked by a robot in the kitchen — it's another thing to order a pizza from a machine without any human guidance.
Consumers seeking convenience could gravitate toward the units, however. Diners will be able to access 800 Degrees' pizzas from the machines 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and the companies claim the units will create a consistent artisan pizza with each order. 800 Degrees and Piestro have developed recipes similar to what is offered in traditional 800 Degrees locations.
800 Degrees was founded on the premise of producing pizzas in 90 seconds in a wood-fired oven. Though the companies may be able to duplicate recipes and ingredients in the machines, it may be a challenge to duplicate a taste created by a wood-fired oven. Also, Piestro's cooking process takes a little longer — three minutes.
The companies are optimistic about the potential for this partnership. In a statement, Piestro CEO Massimo De Marco said Piestro's contactless cooking capabilities, taste, speed and consistency align with the "values of 800 Degrees Pizza to provide customers an exceptional culinary experience." Investors seem to be optimistic as well. In October, Piestro raised $1.7 million.