Up until today, Creator had only been open Wednesday through Friday. While its hours are still limited to 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Creator will now be open Monday through Friday.
In addition to being open more hours, flexitarians can rejoice as the restaurant’s menu will now be open to more types of eaters. Creator is adding a plant-based burger made by Hodo, which, according to the Hodo website, is made from tofu.
Creator is bypassing the whole Beyond Meat v. Impossible discussion by going with a smaller player. Creator’s decision could be driven by the fact that its restaurant is such a small player right now, and didn’t want to deal with any potential shortages that both Beyond and Impossible have experienced. Or maybe Creator just preferred the price and taste of Hodo’s burgers.
The introduction of the plant burger seems like it will disrupt the premise of the robot-powered Creator. For meat burgers, Creator’s robot grinds, forms and cooks the beef patty on the spot. But for plant-based burgers, Creator’s robot will assemble the extras on the bun, but a human will grill up and place the patty. Given the rise in popularity of plant-based burgers, one has to wonder how this will impact Creator’s economics.
We spoke with Creator CEO Alex Vardakostas at our Articulate food robot summit last year and he explained that Creator’s robot is meant to do the repetitive boring work of grilling burgers so employees can do more engaging activities like customer service. For now, it seems like humans will be back working the grill.
Creator’s hours of operation and menu expansion comes on the heels of reports that the company was “totally screwed” by Softbank, which was going to become an investor. Food robots in general have been under scrutiny as fellow San Francisco startup Cafe X shuttered three of its locations and Zume pizza shut down its robot-assisted pizza delivery business.
Will this new move and new menu item keep Creator out of the robot dead pool?