The world of fast food is once again embracing the future with open arms. Chipotle Mexican Grill is diving into automation, and this time, it’s not about a robot making tortilla chips; it’s about whipping up your beloved burrito bowls and salads. Let’s dive into this tasty tale.
Round Two: Chipotle Meets Automation
Chipotle is no stranger to innovation. They introduced Chippy, a robot designed to make tortilla chips, in California about a year ago. This successful chip-making bot set the stage for a new experiment.
The Recipe for Innovation
Automation is spreading like wildfire across the restaurant industry. From salad joints like Sweetgreen to coffee giants like Starbucks, everyone is exploring the benefits of robots and AI. Why? Because they can help cut labor costs, speed up orders, and ensure consistency.
The Not-So-Speedy Payoff
While automation holds great promise, it’s not a cheap affair. Setting up a robotic kitchen can be quite the investment. So, it might take some time before restaurants start seeing the fruits of their tech-heavy labor.
Dreaming Big with Automation
Many restaurant operators have grand dreams of automation reshaping their industry. For instance, Sweetgreen opened its first automated location earlier this year, and their CEO expects all future restaurants to be automated within five years.
Chipotle’s New Kitchen Assistant
Chipotle’s latest experiment comes as a partnership with Hyphen, a startup that’s all about automating restaurant kitchens. Last year, Chipotle decided to invest in Hyphen. This startup, formerly known as Ono Food, now has a valuation of $104 million, according to PitchBook.
Meet the Robot Chef
So, what’s the plan with automation at Chipotle? Well, when you order your burrito bowl or salad online, a robot from Hyphen kicks into action. This high-tech kitchen assistant ensures your order is prepped with precision.
Two Lines, One Goal
In every Chipotle restaurant, you’ll find two assembly lines. There’s one in the front for folks who order in person, and another in the kitchen dedicated to digital orders. Approximately two-thirds of all Chipotle digital orders are for burrito bowls or salads.
The Hyphen Touch
When your digital order comes in, the Hyphen robot takes charge of your burrito bowl or salad. It skillfully places the ingredients in the bowl, making sure it’s just the way you like it. While that’s happening, a Chipotle employee can focus on assembling other items like tacos, quesadillas, or burritos for digital orders.
A Seamless Handoff
Once your bowl or salad is ready, the robot sends it back up to the surface. That’s when the Chipotle team takes over, packaging your order with precision and care.
Fast food just got a bit faster and a lot more futuristic with the power of automation. So, next time you dig into your Chipotle order, remember the high-tech hands that helped put it together.