- Inspire Brands' Buffalo Wild Wings is testing Miso Robotics latest automation product, Flippy Wings, a robotic chicken wing fryer designed for high volume restaurants, according to a press release.
- The pilot began at Inspire Brands Innovation Center in Atlanta this fall. A Flippy Wings unit will be installed at Inspire's Alliance Kitchen, the company's ghost kitchen, to test the automation in a real cooking environment before installation in a standalone Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant later this year.
- Miso Robotics, which previously partnered with White Castle to deploy its automatic, burger-flipping robot at nearly a dozen restaurants, has several pilot agreements with leading national brands.
As the ongoing labor shortage and chicken wing supply chain constraints squeeze wing brands, many are adapting their operations to better meet consumer demand. Automation could help Buffalo Wild Wings, which is among the brands paying steep prices for poultry, protect its bottom line by reducing labor costs.
Miso claims that its tests revealed a 10% to 20% increase in food production speed when using Flippy Wings. The company also says that the product eliminates many hot touchpoints and decreases oil spillage, which could help improve employee safety and create more production efficiencies in the back of house. Buffalo Wild Wings is hiring for over 6,000 team member job openings across its system as of October, so any improvements to efficiencies could help increase speed of service and improve the overall customer experience.
"Technology is making a fundamental impact on the end-to-end restaurant operational model," Paul Brown, CEO of Inspire Brands, said in the press release. "Intelligent automation including AI and robotics will not only transform how we communicate with and take orders from our guests but also how we prepare and serve food to those guests. This transformation will ultimately result in improved efficiencies in our restaurants and an overall elevated experience for our guests and our team members."
In a 2014 effort to improve the customer experience, Buffalo Wild Wings deployed new technologies, including installing tablets at tables to allow guests to order and pay, launching Game Break — a platform that allows diners to compete in fantasy sports on mobile device or the chain's tablets — and creating digital platforms to build loyalty. In 2018, the chain also unveiled a tech-centric new store design. In September of last year, Inspire Brands also invested in POS integration platform ItsaCheckmate, which integrates multiple online ordering platforms into one POS system.
Buffalo Wild Wings isn't alone in turning toward automation, either. About 50% of U.S. restaurant operators said they plan to use automation technology to help fill labor gaps in the next two to three years. McDonald's tested an automated frying machine in 2019 and Saladworks has been working with Chowbotics to deploy its saladmaking robot Sally across various locations.