Restaurant Tech: Robotic dishwashers, virtual receptionists and more: exploring the latest innovations in restaurant tech

Restaurant Tech: Robotic dishwashers, virtual receptionists and more: exploring the latest innovations in restaurant tech

By
Louise Burfitt
May 3, 2021

🍽️ What is it?

  • A fully contactless dining experience, robotic waiters and pot washers, digital menus: tech is coming to a restaurant near you (and probably already has done).
  • Tech has been a part of the restaurant industry, especially larger chains, for some time, but many have been cautious in adopting the latest innovations.
  • That’s probably not surprising given how difficult it is to run a profitable joint. 
  • But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to adapt quickly to digital tech – let’s explore which innovations might outlive the pandemic that accelerated them. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • 2020 wouldn’t be described as a bumper year for many industries. But it was a particularly tough one for the hospitality sector, with months-long restaurant closures and lingering restrictions. Even when restaurants could reopen, it was with limited capacity and many restrictions in place.
  • Many have looked to technology to ease some of the pains of reopening in an altered landscape, whether it’s restaurant management systems, automation or payments.
  • And these changes are likely to be lasting: the future of restaurants and hospitality is one with digital tech at its heart. 


💡 How did it start? 

  • Dine-in restaurants have in the past shied away from technology, especially of the consumer-facing variety. Some may have worried that employing tech would turn off customers but the impact of the pandemic means these concerns have quickly become sidelined as restaurants have been forced to change their approach. 
  • Tech has allowed restaurants to run more efficiently, to reduce touch (with contactless innovations, e.g. using QR codes for digital menus and payment via app) and thus viral exposure, and reduce staffing costs. 

🤷 Why

  • So why tech, and why now? First and foremost: coronavirus. The massive impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector has necessitated huge shifts in the way restaurants of all sizes engage with their customers. Technology has allowed many businesses to offer pickup and delivery, even if they never have before, and reopen contactlessly once restrictions were eased.
  • Research also suggests that dine-in customers may not be quick to return even once the pandemic is over. A study by OpenTable found that up to 91% of consumers in the US would like restaurants to continue to offer takeout and other delivery options even once the virus subsides. Similarly, digital sales are expected to account for over 50% of limited service business by 2025. 
  • Technological innovations like payment via app for dine-in customers and digital menus can also help restaurants lower running costs, providing a clear incentive for businesses to implement digital tools. 
  • Digital tools also allow for hospitality businesses to collect data about their consumers, helping them to streamline their offering and gain new customer insights. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Technology startups are making waves in every stage of the restaurant experience, from booking to ordering to payments - there’s an app for that! A survey by Panasonic in late 2020 found that 100% of food service providers agreed that the pandemic had amped up their efforts to adopt new technology. 
  • The move away from dining in is one area where tech companies have been able to step in and save restaurants’ proverbial bacon. Minnow makes IOT-enabled food lockers, for example, where restaurants can drop off orders for later pickup by consumers. Delivery and takeout options are now a must for restaurants, and dedicated big-name companies like DoorDash and GrubHub cashing in on this trend. Restaurant management systems are also recognising the importance of integrated and seamless takeout and delivery options - check out Foodetective, Deliverect and  Ordermark for starters.  
  • As more and more customers are vaccinated against Covid-19 and start thinking about dining out again, it makes sense that the focus is shifting toward safe and efficient dine-in options too. Seated is a restaurant discovery app that now offers rewards for dining in. Efficient payment and ordering platforms are also easing consumers back into the dining room: Ready is one example, while Presto offers an end-to-end contactless dining kit for restaurants featuring digital menus and payment.
  • Keeping costs down is another major trend, as restaurants have had a tough year financially. Tech is stepping in to help - Numa is a virtual receptionist platform which takes less of a cut of restaurant profits than third-party delivery apps and has thus become a hit with food service operators. Automated solutions are also part of the cost-saving drive: Dishcraft is using robotics to wash dishes faster and increase turnaround times, while Picnic have developed their own robot pizza chef! 


👀 Who? (22 companies in this space)

  • 3D By Flow (3D printers for food targeting the restaurant industry, Netherlands)
  • Allset Technologies (pre-ordering app for restaurants, USA)
  • Apicbase (restaurant management software, Belgium) 
  • Bear Robotics (AI-based robot servers, USA)
  • Deliverect (integrated online ordering, Belgium) 
  • Dishcraft (robotic cleaning and dishwashing, USA) 
  • Eazydiner (online table booking platform for restaurants, India) 
  • Foodetective (Saas B2B marketplace and multi-channel commerce platform for restaurants, Switzerland)
  • Future Ordering (cloud-based online ordering, Sweden) 
  • Minnow (IOT-enabled food lockers, USA)
  • Numa (virtual receptionist platform, USA)
  • Omnivore (cloud solutions that offers API for restaurant POS integration, USA)
  • Ordermark (provider of online ordering management system, USA)
  • Picnic (automated pizza making, USA)
  • Presto (in-house end-to-end contactless dining, USA) 
  • Lunchbox (Developer of a digital ordering platform, USA)
  • Ready (payment and order processing platform, USA)
  • Resengo (reservation tool, Belgium)
  • Seated (mobile restaurant discovery app with dine-in rewards, USA)
  • Sunday (payment solutions, USA) 
  • Tictuk Technologies (social media food ordering, USA)
  • Toast (all-in-one restaurant management platform, USA)
  • Tock (guest management solutions for restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The restaurant industry is worth about $3 trillion according to Technomic, and nearly $800 billion of that is in the U.S. alone.
  • The global restaurant management software market, meanwhile, is expected to reach $6.94 billion by 2025.
Source: Foodetective

🕵️  Case study: Foodetective 

  • Foodetective offers a unified platform that improves F&B business service and operations through its universal API & interface. In under 10 minutes, a restaurant can use the platform to digitise its menu and contact details ready for customers to place and pay for an order via the system. 
  • Based between Geneva and Paris, the startup aids more than 17,500 food and beverage businesses around the world, including Shiso Burger in Geneva, Neko Ramen in Paris, and Tommy’s Burgers in London.
  • Foodetective aims to encompass the entire value chain, with the restaurant centred in the middle. ‘We're able to cater to all stakeholders across this value chain, from wholesaler/distributors on one side to users ordering from delivery on the other (and everything in between). Foodetective's holistic model translates into having multiple stakeholder groups that can benefit from our centralised platform’, said CEO and founder Andrea Tassitro.
  • He also sees the future restaurant as one where Foodetective fits right in: ‘Covid has rocked the industry and showed just how rigid it was from quickly adapting. Restaurants have had to quickly pivot and reorient their business models to pick-up and delivery and (or) adjust their menus and staffing in hopes of simply staying afloat.’
  • Foodetective sees rapid and unprecedented digital acceleration as the main change ushered in for restaurants as a result of the pandemic.
  • With more than $17 billion invested in Food Tech just 2020 alone, Foodetective have arrived at a perfect time to ride this wave of excitement, intrigue and of course, investment in restaurant tech.
Source: Dishcraft

🍽️ Case study: Dishcraft 

  • US startup Dishcraft is approaching restaurant tech from a different angle: a robotic one. Clean dishes are guaranteed every day with their robotic dishwashing service that helps restaurants reduce waste and improve efficiency and food hygiene. 
  • The brand claims that their AI-powered robot pot washers are significantly superior to their human counterparts to detect dirt particles unseen by the human eye. 
  • After starting out trying to sell their robotic inventions directly to foodservice businesses, Dishcraft pivoted to a services offering last year: they pick up dirty dishware from restaurants and corporate kitchens and drop them off, sparklingly clean, in a pre-arranged time frame. 
  • Before the pandemic, they were already on track to disrupt the foodservice sector with their RaaS (robotics as a service) model, but COVID-19 has made their approach even more relevant, given increased focus on cleanliness, and a need for restaurants to streamline to save time and money. 
  • Dishcraft also has a green focus that is very much of the moment, as their service aims to help restaurants save on single-use plastic and takeout containers. 
  • Their total funding now amounts to $45.2 million.

👍 The good

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year spectacularly difficult for F&B businesses, some of the sweeping changes it has brought about may end up being for the good. Many restaurants are newly aware of how technology can aid their business model. 
  • One of the foremost benefits is increased efficiency. Technology can streamline some of the more mundane aspects of running a restaurant - like payment and taking bookings - to allow food businesses to focus on the food and guest experience. 
  • The rise in restaurant tech during the pandemic also means customers are more at ease with digital offerings when ordering or dining in-house, making now a rare window of opportunity for foodservice operators to introduce new tech without alienating customers.
  • Technology can also save restaurants money in the long-term, despite the initial investment. For many, that’s more important than ever after a turbulent financial year.
  • Lastly, digitisation also offers many opportunities for data collection, which F&B businesses can use to gain better consumer insights and improve their offering.

👎 The bad

  • As many restaurants are relatively new to implementing technology, some are finding it harder to incorporate tech into their offering from scratch. 
  • Investing in innovative tech tools doesn’t necessarily come cheap, but many who do so will find their investment pays off quickly. Thankfully, many digital tools aimed at restaurants now offer different levels of membership to cater to smaller businesses as well as larger restaurant chains. 

💡 The bottom line

  • It doesn’t matter whether your restaurant is big or small: almost all foodservice operators have had to implement technology to survive the last year. And many have found it works to their advantage, whether it’s something as simple as digitizing a menu, or as sci-fi as a robot dishwasher!
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🍽️ What is it?

  • A fully contactless dining experience, robotic waiters and pot washers, digital menus: tech is coming to a restaurant near you (and probably already has done).
  • Tech has been a part of the restaurant industry, especially larger chains, for some time, but many have been cautious in adopting the latest innovations.
  • That’s probably not surprising given how difficult it is to run a profitable joint. 
  • But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to adapt quickly to digital tech – let’s explore which innovations might outlive the pandemic that accelerated them. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • 2020 wouldn’t be described as a bumper year for many industries. But it was a particularly tough one for the hospitality sector, with months-long restaurant closures and lingering restrictions. Even when restaurants could reopen, it was with limited capacity and many restrictions in place.
  • Many have looked to technology to ease some of the pains of reopening in an altered landscape, whether it’s restaurant management systems, automation or payments.
  • And these changes are likely to be lasting: the future of restaurants and hospitality is one with digital tech at its heart. 


💡 How did it start? 

  • Dine-in restaurants have in the past shied away from technology, especially of the consumer-facing variety. Some may have worried that employing tech would turn off customers but the impact of the pandemic means these concerns have quickly become sidelined as restaurants have been forced to change their approach. 
  • Tech has allowed restaurants to run more efficiently, to reduce touch (with contactless innovations, e.g. using QR codes for digital menus and payment via app) and thus viral exposure, and reduce staffing costs. 

🤷 Why

  • So why tech, and why now? First and foremost: coronavirus. The massive impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector has necessitated huge shifts in the way restaurants of all sizes engage with their customers. Technology has allowed many businesses to offer pickup and delivery, even if they never have before, and reopen contactlessly once restrictions were eased.
  • Research also suggests that dine-in customers may not be quick to return even once the pandemic is over. A study by OpenTable found that up to 91% of consumers in the US would like restaurants to continue to offer takeout and other delivery options even once the virus subsides. Similarly, digital sales are expected to account for over 50% of limited service business by 2025. 
  • Technological innovations like payment via app for dine-in customers and digital menus can also help restaurants lower running costs, providing a clear incentive for businesses to implement digital tools. 
  • Digital tools also allow for hospitality businesses to collect data about their consumers, helping them to streamline their offering and gain new customer insights. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Technology startups are making waves in every stage of the restaurant experience, from booking to ordering to payments - there’s an app for that! A survey by Panasonic in late 2020 found that 100% of food service providers agreed that the pandemic had amped up their efforts to adopt new technology. 
  • The move away from dining in is one area where tech companies have been able to step in and save restaurants’ proverbial bacon. Minnow makes IOT-enabled food lockers, for example, where restaurants can drop off orders for later pickup by consumers. Delivery and takeout options are now a must for restaurants, and dedicated big-name companies like DoorDash and GrubHub cashing in on this trend. Restaurant management systems are also recognising the importance of integrated and seamless takeout and delivery options - check out Foodetective, Deliverect and  Ordermark for starters.  
  • As more and more customers are vaccinated against Covid-19 and start thinking about dining out again, it makes sense that the focus is shifting toward safe and efficient dine-in options too. Seated is a restaurant discovery app that now offers rewards for dining in. Efficient payment and ordering platforms are also easing consumers back into the dining room: Ready is one example, while Presto offers an end-to-end contactless dining kit for restaurants featuring digital menus and payment.
  • Keeping costs down is another major trend, as restaurants have had a tough year financially. Tech is stepping in to help - Numa is a virtual receptionist platform which takes less of a cut of restaurant profits than third-party delivery apps and has thus become a hit with food service operators. Automated solutions are also part of the cost-saving drive: Dishcraft is using robotics to wash dishes faster and increase turnaround times, while Picnic have developed their own robot pizza chef! 


👀 Who? (22 companies in this space)

  • 3D By Flow (3D printers for food targeting the restaurant industry, Netherlands)
  • Allset Technologies (pre-ordering app for restaurants, USA)
  • Apicbase (restaurant management software, Belgium) 
  • Bear Robotics (AI-based robot servers, USA)
  • Deliverect (integrated online ordering, Belgium) 
  • Dishcraft (robotic cleaning and dishwashing, USA) 
  • Eazydiner (online table booking platform for restaurants, India) 
  • Foodetective (Saas B2B marketplace and multi-channel commerce platform for restaurants, Switzerland)
  • Future Ordering (cloud-based online ordering, Sweden) 
  • Minnow (IOT-enabled food lockers, USA)
  • Numa (virtual receptionist platform, USA)
  • Omnivore (cloud solutions that offers API for restaurant POS integration, USA)
  • Ordermark (provider of online ordering management system, USA)
  • Picnic (automated pizza making, USA)
  • Presto (in-house end-to-end contactless dining, USA) 
  • Lunchbox (Developer of a digital ordering platform, USA)
  • Ready (payment and order processing platform, USA)
  • Resengo (reservation tool, Belgium)
  • Seated (mobile restaurant discovery app with dine-in rewards, USA)
  • Sunday (payment solutions, USA) 
  • Tictuk Technologies (social media food ordering, USA)
  • Toast (all-in-one restaurant management platform, USA)
  • Tock (guest management solutions for restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The restaurant industry is worth about $3 trillion according to Technomic, and nearly $800 billion of that is in the U.S. alone.
  • The global restaurant management software market, meanwhile, is expected to reach $6.94 billion by 2025.
Source: Foodetective

🕵️  Case study: Foodetective 

  • Foodetective offers a unified platform that improves F&B business service and operations through its universal API & interface. In under 10 minutes, a restaurant can use the platform to digitise its menu and contact details ready for customers to place and pay for an order via the system. 
  • Based between Geneva and Paris, the startup aids more than 17,500 food and beverage businesses around the world, including Shiso Burger in Geneva, Neko Ramen in Paris, and Tommy’s Burgers in London.
  • Foodetective aims to encompass the entire value chain, with the restaurant centred in the middle. ‘We're able to cater to all stakeholders across this value chain, from wholesaler/distributors on one side to users ordering from delivery on the other (and everything in between). Foodetective's holistic model translates into having multiple stakeholder groups that can benefit from our centralised platform’, said CEO and founder Andrea Tassitro.
  • He also sees the future restaurant as one where Foodetective fits right in: ‘Covid has rocked the industry and showed just how rigid it was from quickly adapting. Restaurants have had to quickly pivot and reorient their business models to pick-up and delivery and (or) adjust their menus and staffing in hopes of simply staying afloat.’
  • Foodetective sees rapid and unprecedented digital acceleration as the main change ushered in for restaurants as a result of the pandemic.
  • With more than $17 billion invested in Food Tech just 2020 alone, Foodetective have arrived at a perfect time to ride this wave of excitement, intrigue and of course, investment in restaurant tech.
Source: Dishcraft

🍽️ Case study: Dishcraft 

  • US startup Dishcraft is approaching restaurant tech from a different angle: a robotic one. Clean dishes are guaranteed every day with their robotic dishwashing service that helps restaurants reduce waste and improve efficiency and food hygiene. 
  • The brand claims that their AI-powered robot pot washers are significantly superior to their human counterparts to detect dirt particles unseen by the human eye. 
  • After starting out trying to sell their robotic inventions directly to foodservice businesses, Dishcraft pivoted to a services offering last year: they pick up dirty dishware from restaurants and corporate kitchens and drop them off, sparklingly clean, in a pre-arranged time frame. 
  • Before the pandemic, they were already on track to disrupt the foodservice sector with their RaaS (robotics as a service) model, but COVID-19 has made their approach even more relevant, given increased focus on cleanliness, and a need for restaurants to streamline to save time and money. 
  • Dishcraft also has a green focus that is very much of the moment, as their service aims to help restaurants save on single-use plastic and takeout containers. 
  • Their total funding now amounts to $45.2 million.

👍 The good

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year spectacularly difficult for F&B businesses, some of the sweeping changes it has brought about may end up being for the good. Many restaurants are newly aware of how technology can aid their business model. 
  • One of the foremost benefits is increased efficiency. Technology can streamline some of the more mundane aspects of running a restaurant - like payment and taking bookings - to allow food businesses to focus on the food and guest experience. 
  • The rise in restaurant tech during the pandemic also means customers are more at ease with digital offerings when ordering or dining in-house, making now a rare window of opportunity for foodservice operators to introduce new tech without alienating customers.
  • Technology can also save restaurants money in the long-term, despite the initial investment. For many, that’s more important than ever after a turbulent financial year.
  • Lastly, digitisation also offers many opportunities for data collection, which F&B businesses can use to gain better consumer insights and improve their offering.

👎 The bad

  • As many restaurants are relatively new to implementing technology, some are finding it harder to incorporate tech into their offering from scratch. 
  • Investing in innovative tech tools doesn’t necessarily come cheap, but many who do so will find their investment pays off quickly. Thankfully, many digital tools aimed at restaurants now offer different levels of membership to cater to smaller businesses as well as larger restaurant chains. 

💡 The bottom line

  • It doesn’t matter whether your restaurant is big or small: almost all foodservice operators have had to implement technology to survive the last year. And many have found it works to their advantage, whether it’s something as simple as digitizing a menu, or as sci-fi as a robot dishwasher!

🍽️ What is it?

  • A fully contactless dining experience, robotic waiters and pot washers, digital menus: tech is coming to a restaurant near you (and probably already has done).
  • Tech has been a part of the restaurant industry, especially larger chains, for some time, but many have been cautious in adopting the latest innovations.
  • That’s probably not surprising given how difficult it is to run a profitable joint. 
  • But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to adapt quickly to digital tech – let’s explore which innovations might outlive the pandemic that accelerated them. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • 2020 wouldn’t be described as a bumper year for many industries. But it was a particularly tough one for the hospitality sector, with months-long restaurant closures and lingering restrictions. Even when restaurants could reopen, it was with limited capacity and many restrictions in place.
  • Many have looked to technology to ease some of the pains of reopening in an altered landscape, whether it’s restaurant management systems, automation or payments.
  • And these changes are likely to be lasting: the future of restaurants and hospitality is one with digital tech at its heart. 


💡 How did it start? 

  • Dine-in restaurants have in the past shied away from technology, especially of the consumer-facing variety. Some may have worried that employing tech would turn off customers but the impact of the pandemic means these concerns have quickly become sidelined as restaurants have been forced to change their approach. 
  • Tech has allowed restaurants to run more efficiently, to reduce touch (with contactless innovations, e.g. using QR codes for digital menus and payment via app) and thus viral exposure, and reduce staffing costs. 

🤷 Why

  • So why tech, and why now? First and foremost: coronavirus. The massive impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector has necessitated huge shifts in the way restaurants of all sizes engage with their customers. Technology has allowed many businesses to offer pickup and delivery, even if they never have before, and reopen contactlessly once restrictions were eased.
  • Research also suggests that dine-in customers may not be quick to return even once the pandemic is over. A study by OpenTable found that up to 91% of consumers in the US would like restaurants to continue to offer takeout and other delivery options even once the virus subsides. Similarly, digital sales are expected to account for over 50% of limited service business by 2025. 
  • Technological innovations like payment via app for dine-in customers and digital menus can also help restaurants lower running costs, providing a clear incentive for businesses to implement digital tools. 
  • Digital tools also allow for hospitality businesses to collect data about their consumers, helping them to streamline their offering and gain new customer insights. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Technology startups are making waves in every stage of the restaurant experience, from booking to ordering to payments - there’s an app for that! A survey by Panasonic in late 2020 found that 100% of food service providers agreed that the pandemic had amped up their efforts to adopt new technology. 
  • The move away from dining in is one area where tech companies have been able to step in and save restaurants’ proverbial bacon. Minnow makes IOT-enabled food lockers, for example, where restaurants can drop off orders for later pickup by consumers. Delivery and takeout options are now a must for restaurants, and dedicated big-name companies like DoorDash and GrubHub cashing in on this trend. Restaurant management systems are also recognising the importance of integrated and seamless takeout and delivery options - check out Foodetective, Deliverect and  Ordermark for starters.  
  • As more and more customers are vaccinated against Covid-19 and start thinking about dining out again, it makes sense that the focus is shifting toward safe and efficient dine-in options too. Seated is a restaurant discovery app that now offers rewards for dining in. Efficient payment and ordering platforms are also easing consumers back into the dining room: Ready is one example, while Presto offers an end-to-end contactless dining kit for restaurants featuring digital menus and payment.
  • Keeping costs down is another major trend, as restaurants have had a tough year financially. Tech is stepping in to help - Numa is a virtual receptionist platform which takes less of a cut of restaurant profits than third-party delivery apps and has thus become a hit with food service operators. Automated solutions are also part of the cost-saving drive: Dishcraft is using robotics to wash dishes faster and increase turnaround times, while Picnic have developed their own robot pizza chef! 


👀 Who? (22 companies in this space)

  • 3D By Flow (3D printers for food targeting the restaurant industry, Netherlands)
  • Allset Technologies (pre-ordering app for restaurants, USA)
  • Apicbase (restaurant management software, Belgium) 
  • Bear Robotics (AI-based robot servers, USA)
  • Deliverect (integrated online ordering, Belgium) 
  • Dishcraft (robotic cleaning and dishwashing, USA) 
  • Eazydiner (online table booking platform for restaurants, India) 
  • Foodetective (Saas B2B marketplace and multi-channel commerce platform for restaurants, Switzerland)
  • Future Ordering (cloud-based online ordering, Sweden) 
  • Minnow (IOT-enabled food lockers, USA)
  • Numa (virtual receptionist platform, USA)
  • Omnivore (cloud solutions that offers API for restaurant POS integration, USA)
  • Ordermark (provider of online ordering management system, USA)
  • Picnic (automated pizza making, USA)
  • Presto (in-house end-to-end contactless dining, USA) 
  • Lunchbox (Developer of a digital ordering platform, USA)
  • Ready (payment and order processing platform, USA)
  • Resengo (reservation tool, Belgium)
  • Seated (mobile restaurant discovery app with dine-in rewards, USA)
  • Sunday (payment solutions, USA) 
  • Tictuk Technologies (social media food ordering, USA)
  • Toast (all-in-one restaurant management platform, USA)
  • Tock (guest management solutions for restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The restaurant industry is worth about $3 trillion according to Technomic, and nearly $800 billion of that is in the U.S. alone.
  • The global restaurant management software market, meanwhile, is expected to reach $6.94 billion by 2025.
Source: Foodetective

🕵️  Case study: Foodetective 

  • Foodetective offers a unified platform that improves F&B business service and operations through its universal API & interface. In under 10 minutes, a restaurant can use the platform to digitise its menu and contact details ready for customers to place and pay for an order via the system. 
  • Based between Geneva and Paris, the startup aids more than 17,500 food and beverage businesses around the world, including Shiso Burger in Geneva, Neko Ramen in Paris, and Tommy’s Burgers in London.
  • Foodetective aims to encompass the entire value chain, with the restaurant centred in the middle. ‘We're able to cater to all stakeholders across this value chain, from wholesaler/distributors on one side to users ordering from delivery on the other (and everything in between). Foodetective's holistic model translates into having multiple stakeholder groups that can benefit from our centralised platform’, said CEO and founder Andrea Tassitro.
  • He also sees the future restaurant as one where Foodetective fits right in: ‘Covid has rocked the industry and showed just how rigid it was from quickly adapting. Restaurants have had to quickly pivot and reorient their business models to pick-up and delivery and (or) adjust their menus and staffing in hopes of simply staying afloat.’
  • Foodetective sees rapid and unprecedented digital acceleration as the main change ushered in for restaurants as a result of the pandemic.
  • With more than $17 billion invested in Food Tech just 2020 alone, Foodetective have arrived at a perfect time to ride this wave of excitement, intrigue and of course, investment in restaurant tech.
Source: Dishcraft

🍽️ Case study: Dishcraft 

  • US startup Dishcraft is approaching restaurant tech from a different angle: a robotic one. Clean dishes are guaranteed every day with their robotic dishwashing service that helps restaurants reduce waste and improve efficiency and food hygiene. 
  • The brand claims that their AI-powered robot pot washers are significantly superior to their human counterparts to detect dirt particles unseen by the human eye. 
  • After starting out trying to sell their robotic inventions directly to foodservice businesses, Dishcraft pivoted to a services offering last year: they pick up dirty dishware from restaurants and corporate kitchens and drop them off, sparklingly clean, in a pre-arranged time frame. 
  • Before the pandemic, they were already on track to disrupt the foodservice sector with their RaaS (robotics as a service) model, but COVID-19 has made their approach even more relevant, given increased focus on cleanliness, and a need for restaurants to streamline to save time and money. 
  • Dishcraft also has a green focus that is very much of the moment, as their service aims to help restaurants save on single-use plastic and takeout containers. 
  • Their total funding now amounts to $45.2 million.

👍 The good

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year spectacularly difficult for F&B businesses, some of the sweeping changes it has brought about may end up being for the good. Many restaurants are newly aware of how technology can aid their business model. 
  • One of the foremost benefits is increased efficiency. Technology can streamline some of the more mundane aspects of running a restaurant - like payment and taking bookings - to allow food businesses to focus on the food and guest experience. 
  • The rise in restaurant tech during the pandemic also means customers are more at ease with digital offerings when ordering or dining in-house, making now a rare window of opportunity for foodservice operators to introduce new tech without alienating customers.
  • Technology can also save restaurants money in the long-term, despite the initial investment. For many, that’s more important than ever after a turbulent financial year.
  • Lastly, digitisation also offers many opportunities for data collection, which F&B businesses can use to gain better consumer insights and improve their offering.

👎 The bad

  • As many restaurants are relatively new to implementing technology, some are finding it harder to incorporate tech into their offering from scratch. 
  • Investing in innovative tech tools doesn’t necessarily come cheap, but many who do so will find their investment pays off quickly. Thankfully, many digital tools aimed at restaurants now offer different levels of membership to cater to smaller businesses as well as larger restaurant chains. 

💡 The bottom line

  • It doesn’t matter whether your restaurant is big or small: almost all foodservice operators have had to implement technology to survive the last year. And many have found it works to their advantage, whether it’s something as simple as digitizing a menu, or as sci-fi as a robot dishwasher!

🍽️ What is it?

  • A fully contactless dining experience, robotic waiters and pot washers, digital menus: tech is coming to a restaurant near you (and probably already has done).
  • Tech has been a part of the restaurant industry, especially larger chains, for some time, but many have been cautious in adopting the latest innovations.
  • That’s probably not surprising given how difficult it is to run a profitable joint. 
  • But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to adapt quickly to digital tech – let’s explore which innovations might outlive the pandemic that accelerated them. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • 2020 wouldn’t be described as a bumper year for many industries. But it was a particularly tough one for the hospitality sector, with months-long restaurant closures and lingering restrictions. Even when restaurants could reopen, it was with limited capacity and many restrictions in place.
  • Many have looked to technology to ease some of the pains of reopening in an altered landscape, whether it’s restaurant management systems, automation or payments.
  • And these changes are likely to be lasting: the future of restaurants and hospitality is one with digital tech at its heart. 


💡 How did it start? 

  • Dine-in restaurants have in the past shied away from technology, especially of the consumer-facing variety. Some may have worried that employing tech would turn off customers but the impact of the pandemic means these concerns have quickly become sidelined as restaurants have been forced to change their approach. 
  • Tech has allowed restaurants to run more efficiently, to reduce touch (with contactless innovations, e.g. using QR codes for digital menus and payment via app) and thus viral exposure, and reduce staffing costs. 

🤷 Why

  • So why tech, and why now? First and foremost: coronavirus. The massive impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector has necessitated huge shifts in the way restaurants of all sizes engage with their customers. Technology has allowed many businesses to offer pickup and delivery, even if they never have before, and reopen contactlessly once restrictions were eased.
  • Research also suggests that dine-in customers may not be quick to return even once the pandemic is over. A study by OpenTable found that up to 91% of consumers in the US would like restaurants to continue to offer takeout and other delivery options even once the virus subsides. Similarly, digital sales are expected to account for over 50% of limited service business by 2025. 
  • Technological innovations like payment via app for dine-in customers and digital menus can also help restaurants lower running costs, providing a clear incentive for businesses to implement digital tools. 
  • Digital tools also allow for hospitality businesses to collect data about their consumers, helping them to streamline their offering and gain new customer insights. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Technology startups are making waves in every stage of the restaurant experience, from booking to ordering to payments - there’s an app for that! A survey by Panasonic in late 2020 found that 100% of food service providers agreed that the pandemic had amped up their efforts to adopt new technology. 
  • The move away from dining in is one area where tech companies have been able to step in and save restaurants’ proverbial bacon. Minnow makes IOT-enabled food lockers, for example, where restaurants can drop off orders for later pickup by consumers. Delivery and takeout options are now a must for restaurants, and dedicated big-name companies like DoorDash and GrubHub cashing in on this trend. Restaurant management systems are also recognising the importance of integrated and seamless takeout and delivery options - check out Foodetective, Deliverect and  Ordermark for starters.  
  • As more and more customers are vaccinated against Covid-19 and start thinking about dining out again, it makes sense that the focus is shifting toward safe and efficient dine-in options too. Seated is a restaurant discovery app that now offers rewards for dining in. Efficient payment and ordering platforms are also easing consumers back into the dining room: Ready is one example, while Presto offers an end-to-end contactless dining kit for restaurants featuring digital menus and payment.
  • Keeping costs down is another major trend, as restaurants have had a tough year financially. Tech is stepping in to help - Numa is a virtual receptionist platform which takes less of a cut of restaurant profits than third-party delivery apps and has thus become a hit with food service operators. Automated solutions are also part of the cost-saving drive: Dishcraft is using robotics to wash dishes faster and increase turnaround times, while Picnic have developed their own robot pizza chef! 


👀 Who? (22 companies in this space)

  • 3D By Flow (3D printers for food targeting the restaurant industry, Netherlands)
  • Allset Technologies (pre-ordering app for restaurants, USA)
  • Apicbase (restaurant management software, Belgium) 
  • Bear Robotics (AI-based robot servers, USA)
  • Deliverect (integrated online ordering, Belgium) 
  • Dishcraft (robotic cleaning and dishwashing, USA) 
  • Eazydiner (online table booking platform for restaurants, India) 
  • Foodetective (Saas B2B marketplace and multi-channel commerce platform for restaurants, Switzerland)
  • Future Ordering (cloud-based online ordering, Sweden) 
  • Minnow (IOT-enabled food lockers, USA)
  • Numa (virtual receptionist platform, USA)
  • Omnivore (cloud solutions that offers API for restaurant POS integration, USA)
  • Ordermark (provider of online ordering management system, USA)
  • Picnic (automated pizza making, USA)
  • Presto (in-house end-to-end contactless dining, USA) 
  • Lunchbox (Developer of a digital ordering platform, USA)
  • Ready (payment and order processing platform, USA)
  • Resengo (reservation tool, Belgium)
  • Seated (mobile restaurant discovery app with dine-in rewards, USA)
  • Sunday (payment solutions, USA) 
  • Tictuk Technologies (social media food ordering, USA)
  • Toast (all-in-one restaurant management platform, USA)
  • Tock (guest management solutions for restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The restaurant industry is worth about $3 trillion according to Technomic, and nearly $800 billion of that is in the U.S. alone.
  • The global restaurant management software market, meanwhile, is expected to reach $6.94 billion by 2025.
Source: Foodetective

🕵️  Case study: Foodetective 

  • Foodetective offers a unified platform that improves F&B business service and operations through its universal API & interface. In under 10 minutes, a restaurant can use the platform to digitise its menu and contact details ready for customers to place and pay for an order via the system. 
  • Based between Geneva and Paris, the startup aids more than 17,500 food and beverage businesses around the world, including Shiso Burger in Geneva, Neko Ramen in Paris, and Tommy’s Burgers in London.
  • Foodetective aims to encompass the entire value chain, with the restaurant centred in the middle. ‘We're able to cater to all stakeholders across this value chain, from wholesaler/distributors on one side to users ordering from delivery on the other (and everything in between). Foodetective's holistic model translates into having multiple stakeholder groups that can benefit from our centralised platform’, said CEO and founder Andrea Tassitro.
  • He also sees the future restaurant as one where Foodetective fits right in: ‘Covid has rocked the industry and showed just how rigid it was from quickly adapting. Restaurants have had to quickly pivot and reorient their business models to pick-up and delivery and (or) adjust their menus and staffing in hopes of simply staying afloat.’
  • Foodetective sees rapid and unprecedented digital acceleration as the main change ushered in for restaurants as a result of the pandemic.
  • With more than $17 billion invested in Food Tech just 2020 alone, Foodetective have arrived at a perfect time to ride this wave of excitement, intrigue and of course, investment in restaurant tech.
Source: Dishcraft

🍽️ Case study: Dishcraft 

  • US startup Dishcraft is approaching restaurant tech from a different angle: a robotic one. Clean dishes are guaranteed every day with their robotic dishwashing service that helps restaurants reduce waste and improve efficiency and food hygiene. 
  • The brand claims that their AI-powered robot pot washers are significantly superior to their human counterparts to detect dirt particles unseen by the human eye. 
  • After starting out trying to sell their robotic inventions directly to foodservice businesses, Dishcraft pivoted to a services offering last year: they pick up dirty dishware from restaurants and corporate kitchens and drop them off, sparklingly clean, in a pre-arranged time frame. 
  • Before the pandemic, they were already on track to disrupt the foodservice sector with their RaaS (robotics as a service) model, but COVID-19 has made their approach even more relevant, given increased focus on cleanliness, and a need for restaurants to streamline to save time and money. 
  • Dishcraft also has a green focus that is very much of the moment, as their service aims to help restaurants save on single-use plastic and takeout containers. 
  • Their total funding now amounts to $45.2 million.

👍 The good

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year spectacularly difficult for F&B businesses, some of the sweeping changes it has brought about may end up being for the good. Many restaurants are newly aware of how technology can aid their business model. 
  • One of the foremost benefits is increased efficiency. Technology can streamline some of the more mundane aspects of running a restaurant - like payment and taking bookings - to allow food businesses to focus on the food and guest experience. 
  • The rise in restaurant tech during the pandemic also means customers are more at ease with digital offerings when ordering or dining in-house, making now a rare window of opportunity for foodservice operators to introduce new tech without alienating customers.
  • Technology can also save restaurants money in the long-term, despite the initial investment. For many, that’s more important than ever after a turbulent financial year.
  • Lastly, digitisation also offers many opportunities for data collection, which F&B businesses can use to gain better consumer insights and improve their offering.

👎 The bad

  • As many restaurants are relatively new to implementing technology, some are finding it harder to incorporate tech into their offering from scratch. 
  • Investing in innovative tech tools doesn’t necessarily come cheap, but many who do so will find their investment pays off quickly. Thankfully, many digital tools aimed at restaurants now offer different levels of membership to cater to smaller businesses as well as larger restaurant chains. 

💡 The bottom line

  • It doesn’t matter whether your restaurant is big or small: almost all foodservice operators have had to implement technology to survive the last year. And many have found it works to their advantage, whether it’s something as simple as digitizing a menu, or as sci-fi as a robot dishwasher!
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