- Jamba and Blendid have added automated smoothie kiosk locations at Georgia College and Kennesaw State University. Each college will house a smoothie kiosk in their respective student unions, marking Jamba by Blendid's debut on college campuses, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive.
- The first Jamba by Blendid kiosks opened in late 2020 in a California Walmart. Citing success at that first location, Jamba expanded its pilot to a shopping mall in California in 2021.
- The company is encouraged by the technology's reliability, as well as customer satisfaction, repeat guests and sales, Jamba said in an emailed statement. The smoothie chain will continue to explore non-traditional locations, such as gyms, hospitals and airports.
Jamba joins a slew of restaurant companies testing robotic and automated food service products at colleges.
University campuses are a prime target for this type of technology because they are high-traffic markets with tech-savvy, captive audiences. The fully-automated Brooklyn Dumpling Shop recently opened near the University of Connecticut, for instance. PizzaForno's has opened automated pizza vending machines near the University of Michigan, and Picnic, another automated pizza concept, has opened up at Texas A&M University.
"Since the beginning, we have wanted to test the Jamba by Blendid kiosks on college campuses. We know there is increasing demand for more ways to access our products and by introducing our robotic kiosks at colleges and universities across the country, we are making it even easier for consumers to enjoy smoothies 24/7," Jamba President Geoff Henry said in a statement.
The Gerogia College location poses particular expansion potential for Jamba by Blendid if it performs well, since that kiosk is managed by Sodexo, one of the largest institutional foodservice contractors in the world. Jamba by Blendid's kiosks offer seven smoothie options through an automated robotics system that leverages artificial intelligence. Products are available on-demand at the kiosk or by ordering ahead through the Blendid app, and can be customized. Guests can also pay for the products with their college dining cards.
The concept's growth reflects a larger trend — the global interactive kiosk market is set to grow by over 5.5% through 2026, with the U.S. holding a significant amount of the market share.
Restaurants are dabbling in this space outside of college campuses, too. In recent months, Freebirds' began testing automated "Takeout Stations" with Now Cuisine and Basil Street began expanding its pizza vending machine concepts to airports. 800 Degrees Pizza has also teamed with robotics company Piestro.
Automated kiosks are available for a significantly lower cost than a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant, making them an attractive expansion tactic. They could also provide relief from the current labor shortage by creating a food solution without many, if any, staffing needs. Fifty percent of restaurant operators plan to deploy some form of labor-saving, automated technology within the next few years, according to Lightspeed.