- Creating Culinary Communities (C3) has partnered with robot delivery service Coco to deliver C3's virtual restaurant brands, including Umami Burger and Sam's Crispy Chicken, in Los Angeles, according to a press release.
- Robotic delivery will be offered within two miles of several C3 digital kitchens on Broadway and Main Street in Santa Monica, The Grove in West Hollywood and in Los Feliz. The global food tech platform plans to expand this partnership to other locations in the Los Angeles area and in several other major U.S. cities.
- This partnership will allow C3 to streamline kitchen operations and reduce pickup times by an average of 10 minutes, which could give it an edge over other virtual brand operators.
While virtual brand operators have been expanding into different markets and partnerships, C3 has been deepening its technology stack. In April, it launched its Go by Citizens platform through a partnership with Lunchbox to provide an alternative to third-party delivery platforms.
The addition of a self-delivery channel will only expand its capabilities. Coco robots allow C3 to deliver 30% faster than driver-based services and can reduce traditional delivery costs charged to restaurants by up to 50%, according to the press release.
Other virtual brand operators and ghost kitchens don't offer delivery via robots, traditionally partnering with third-party delivery providers instead. The companies claim that the robots can arrive on time with 97% accuracy, which will improve the quality of delivered food.
C3 has also worked to increase its consumer reach. Earlier this month, the company opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Manhattan, where it offers two full-service restaurants and 13 service kiosks. C3 also partnered with Chowly earlier this year to tap into Chowly's network of 10,000 restaurants, which now has access to C3's virtual brands. C3 has expanded its brands into 250 digital kitchens in the U.S. and has plans for 1,000 locations in new and existing marketings, according to the press release.
This partnership also shows growing operator interest in using delivery robots to offer cheaper, short distance delivery. In August, Coco received $36 million in Series A funding, in which C3's CEO and founder Sam Nazarian participated. That relationship likely allows C3 to get an early look at the kinds of technology Coco is developing. Coco plans to use the funding for new hardware and expansion into additional cities. In addition to its partnership with C3, Coco also works with a handful of family-operated restaurants in Southern California, according to Tech Crunch.
Delivery robots are just starting to gain traction in the restaurant industry after years of testing on college campuses. While third-party delivery companies have been more aggressive in using the technology — Grubhub partnered with Yandex this year to deploy its bots across college campuses during the fall — chains like Chick-fil-A are starting to pilot delivery bots as an alternative to traditional delivery.