Funds are pouring in for automated solutions that promise to reduce labor requirements at every stage of the restaurant supply chain.
On the delivery side, Berkeley, Calif.-based sidewalk delivery robotics startup Kiwibot announced on Thursday (February 17) a contract extension with food service and facilities management company Sodexo to increase its university presence to reach 50 campuses by the end of the year. With this move, the company’s fleet will reach 1,200 robots.
“The early success of our Kiwibot partnership has shown that automated delivery is not only possible and reliable, it is desirable,” said Sarosh Mistry, president of Sodexo North America, in the announcement. “…This year, more students than ever will benefit from self-driving delivery, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of this emerging market.”
Along with this expansion, Kiwibot also raised $7.5m in a pre-Series A round with participation from Sodexo, bringing the company’s total funding now to $14m.
“We have worked intensively in the field of robotic food delivery over the past five years, and this funding will allow us to grow the business at the speed demanded by the market,” commented the CEO and co-founder of Kiwibot. , Felipe Chávez Cortés.
restaurant kitchen Robotics company Hyphen announces $24 million Series A funding round
Also in restaurant robotics fundraising news, Hyphen, a company that creates automated solutions for commercial kitchens, raised $24 million in its Series A funding round, according to a statement from press of Wednesday, February 16.
The round was led by Tiger Global and included participation from a range of industry insiders, including Steve Fredette, co-founder and president of Toast, and Donald Moore, former chief culinary officer and executive vice president of The Cheesecake Factory. This fundraising brings the company’s total to $34.4 million.
“Amid labor shortages and growing customer demand for take-out and delivery, restaurants need ways to increase throughput and improve efficiency,” said Griffin Schroeder, partner of lead investor Tiger Global, in the statement. “Hyphen has created an intuitive and reliable solution that does both.”
The company’s first product is an automated food production line that promises to prepare 350 meals per hour, slated for deployment in 2024.
Read more: Hyphen’s Restaurant Robotics fends off delivery giants
Smoothie King Launches SMS Order Pilot
As restaurants increasingly look for ways to integrate the ordering experience into consumers’ daily routines, some brands are using conversational commerce features to remove friction from the shopping process.
The Dallas, Texas-based Smoothie King chain, which has more than 1,300 locations in the United States and abroad, announced in a press release on Monday, February 14, the launch of a pilot test of a SMS ordering platform, which allows consumers to order and pay via SMS, in Chicago and Jacksonville.
“Rolling out our text-to-command platform is just another way for our brand to continue to innovate and stay ahead of our competition,” said Chris Andrews, Chief information from Smoothie King, in the press release. “We are the first to market with this feature in the QSR space and look forward to launching it in markets nationwide throughout the year.”
New York congressman calls for replenishment of $60 billion restaurant revitalization fund
As restaurants continue to grapple with pandemic-related challenges, compounded by labor, supply chain and inflationary pressures, some are calling for additional federal relief.
New York Congressman Joe Morelle announced Tuesday (February 15th) that, working with New York State restaurateurs, he is seeking an additional $60 billion replenishment to the $28.7 billion allocated to the American Rescue Plan Restaurant Revitalization Fund in March.
“The restaurant industry has been devastated by the pandemic, and there is a critical need for additional relief,” Rep. Morelle said in a statement. “I call for immediate action to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and will continue to advocate for solutions to help restaurants through these difficult times.”
See also: National Restaurant Association urges Congress to replenish Delta Variant response fund