Piestro, which makes an robotic pizza kiosk, announced today that 800 Degrees Pizza will be using Piestro’s technology to offer a fully automated eating experience. According to the press announcement, the deal will have a projected order volume of 3,600 units that Piestro will produce and sell over the next five years.
Piestro’s machine is an automated pizza making kiosk. It holds the dough and dispenses sauce, cheese and a variety of toppings on demand to make a piping hot pie in three minutes. This is the first American restaurant brand partnership for Piestro.
Licensing out its technology is one of two go-to market strategies for Piestro, which will also own and operate a number of its own machines. Kiosks created for 800 Degrees will be labeled “800 Degrees by Piestro,” and will be placed in high-traffic areas such as airports, universities, hotels, etc. As part of the deal, 800 Degrees will have a number of machines that it operates to determine how customers are interacting with the kiosk. 800 Degrees Founder and Chef Anthony Carron told me by video chat this week that eventually the plan is to franchise out its machines to other owners.
Automated kiosks such as Piestro could have a lot of appeal for established restaurant brands looking to expand. With its small footprint, a kiosk can be installed just about anywhere there is power. This allows restaurants to put their brand in places without building out a full restaurant. Hotels, for example, could install an 800 Degrees pizza kiosk in the lobby to offer fresh hot pizza around the clock.
Carron said that this is his restaurant’s first foray into automation, driven mostly by two main factors. “Labor and consistency have been huge issues in our business,” Carron said. A robot like Piestro’s helps mitigate these issues as the robot can run all day without taking a break and makes the exact same pizza every time.
We are starting to more established brands partner with automated vending companies. Yo-Kai Express has already opened up its hot ramen vending machine platform to a number of well-known restaurants. And Chowbotics (part of DoorDash), which makes the Sally robot recently partnered with Kellogg’s to automate cereal and yogurt bowls for students at two different universities.
PMQ Pizza reported sales of pizza in the U.S. in 2020 topped $46 billion, which means there’s a huge opportunity for Piestro and other players in the automated pizza vending space. One big difference between Piestro and its competition right now is that Piestro makes its pizza on the spot. Other machines from API Tech, Basil Street and PizzaForno are storing and re-heating pre-made pizzas.
With the amount of money consumers spend on pizza, the ongoing labor issues and the pandemic still driving interest in contactless food retail experiences, we’re going to see a lot more pizza vending machines pop up, and a lot more co-branding announcements like the one from Piestro and 800 Degrees.