- &pizza, a 36-unit fast casual chain based in Washington, D.C., has partnered with Zume to use the tech company's Forward Mobile Kitchens as part of the pizza chain's expansion into new markets, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive. The mobile kitchen will also help the chain test new products and create a streamlined brand experience across the restaurant's different formats.
- "The process of creating a technologically integrated experience in our pizza shops has a considerable lead time, so we're leveraging mobile units to share our product and story before we open a physical space," said Andy Hooper, &pizza president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
- The mobile kitchens include an intelligent software platform that optimizes workflow, connected appliances and integration of last-mile delivery. The company will also provide help with market identification, permitting, mobile kitchen operations, transportation and kitchen maintenance. Additionally, delivery-specific culinary support will be available to help restaurants tailor their menus for a mobile kitchen environment.
Restaurants are increasingly using more technology as part of their daily operations to improve the customer experience, optimize delivery operations and make better use of existing employees during a growing labor shortage. With nearly a quarter of smartphone users expected to use a food delivery app by 2023, restaurants are increasingly under pressure to change operations to get more orders to people faster, and alternative tech-centric formats are key to reaching these diners.
In addition to mobile kitchens, restaurants are also using virtual kitchens in new markets, such as Dog Haus and Wetzel Pretzel's use of Kitchen United's turnkey kitchens, to reach more customers without having to spend money on expensive real estate. Others like Auntie Anne's and Shake Shack use food trucks as marketing tools and to provide catering and food for events. &pizza is also testing a 300-square-foot cube kiosk prototype in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station with a machine that can create 300 pizzas in under one hour.
Zume's mobile kitchens can be customizable for the brand, use predictive analytics to figure out the ideal locations for the trucks and allow customers to order for delivery. It's very likely the industry will see more chains signing up for these kitchens, especially after raising $375 million from SoftBank last year, and turning toward licensing its technology for restaurants after fine-tuning its mobile kitchen technology with its Zume Pizza brand.
Tech startups in general are increasingly inching into the space and aligning closer with restaurant brands, especially as restaurants struggle to keep up with new technologies. Brightloom, formerly eatsa, partnered with Starbucks in July to create an all-in-one platform that will include the chain's mobile and loyalty technology to be licensed for the restaurant industry. Pizza Hut is also testing Brightloom's cubby technology in the West Coast to improve carryout. With so much technology at the disposal of restaurants, the entire experience is only going to continue to change and evolve.