News Feature | July 17, 2017

Restaurant And Hospitality News – July 17, 2017

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Papa John's Clean ingredients

In news this week, Papa John’s continues to drive its digital offerings by adding a Facebook ordering capability; while CaliBurger is test-driving “Flippy,” a robotic kitchen assistant, to help prepare burgers.

Papa John’s Adds Facebook Ordering Feature

Papa John’s has announced the rollout of a new “Start Order” button on its national Facebook page that allows its customers to seamlessly order their favorite food items via Facebook. Customers ordering using the Facebook options receive 25 percent off regular menu prices by using the promo code: FBIX. The Facebook Instant Experience can be accessed through several entry points, including the national Facebook page and the Timeline’s “Order Food” option.

“The only thing that could make the video of your friend’s new puppy better is a Papa John’s pizza being delivered while you’re watching it,” asserted Papa John’s Global CMO Brandon Rhoten. “We love that Facebook is giving their 2 billion active monthly users access to real-world experiences like food ordering, and are proud to be the first national pizza brand on board.”

And the capabilities are likely to continue to expand, according to Rhoten. “It’s an opportunity as far as a brand perspective to get better integration between social platforms and those give-me-my-pizza moments,” Rhoten told The Nation’s Restaurant News. “Millions of people are interacting on social media. We want to make it as easy as possible to get pizza in their hands.”

Papa John’s continues to strive to provide new digital options to its customers to improve the ordering experience. Mike Nettles, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Papa John’s explained, “Our goal is to meet Papa John’s customer s wherever they are. This is core to our strategy for simple, easy ordering for our guests.”

Papa John’s asserts that it was the first national pizza chain to offer digital ordering at all of its US delivery restaurants in 2001; to offer system wide mobile ordering via SMS text in 2007; to launch Papa Rewards, a nationwide digital rewards program in 2010; to offer digital gift cards that customers can use via mobile devices; to surpass 60 percent of total US sales via digital channels; and to launch a custom Apple TV ordering app.

The pizza chain prides itself on its digital offerings as part of its strategy for improving customer experience and satisfaction.

“Flippy” The Burger-Flipping Robot Debuts At CaliBurger

As restaurants fight to win customers and reduce overhead to increase their profit margins, many are turning to new robotics technology to help. One California burger chain has installed “Flippy,” a new robotic kitchen assistant designed by Miso Robotics, to help with food preparation in its Pasadena location. If the beta test there is successful, CaliBurger says it could roll out “Flippy” to 50 locations by the end of 2019.

The robotic assistant works in collaboration with chefs and cooks, using cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence to prepare food. In this case, Flippy watches over burgers. Once they are cooked, Flippy picks them up and places them on a bun for service.

“Much like self-driving vehicles, Flippy continuously learns from its experiences to improve over time,” said David Zito, chief executive officer of Miso Robotics, “and although we’re starting with the relatively ‘simple’ task of cooking burgers, our proprietary artificial intelligence software allows our kitchen assistants to be adaptable and therefore can be trained to help with almost any dull, dirty or dangerous task in a commercial kitchen – whether it’s frying chicken, cutting vegetables or final plating.”

"The application of artificial intelligence to robotic systems that work next to our employees in CaliBurger restaurants will allow us to make food faster, safer and with fewer errors," said John Miller, Chairman of Cali Group. "Our investment in Miso Robotics is part of our broader vision for creating a unified operating system that will control all aspects of a restaurant from in-store interactive gaming entertainment to automated ordering and cooking processes, 'intelligent' food delivery and real-time detection of operating errors and pathogens."