As the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more people into ordering delivery from restaurants, the restaurant industry has responded by opening more ghost kitchens. And with more restaurants ditching the front of house for smaller-format, delivery-only operations, the logical next step is to automate as much of that new format as possible, which is now starting to happen.
Last week, Tel Aviv-based Kitchen Robotics unveiled the Beastro, a robotic ghost kitchen. The Beastro is an industrial-looking standalone kiosk that acts as a fully automated kitchen. The Beastro is 11 ft. 6 in. by five ft. 10 in. wide and 7 ft 2 inches tall, weighing in a 1,790 lbs. It can make 45 dishes an hour including Italian and Asian cuisines, as well as soups, salads and more. The Beastro starts at $5,990 a month.
As you can see from this promotional video, the Beastro is reminiscent of the Spyce Kitchen, with a series of grippers, conveyors and dispensers. The machine places all ingredients in a bowl, then mixes and heats the dishes, presumably through induction.
The smarts of the Beastro is in Kitchen Robotics’ cloud-based Cuismo software. Cuismo manages the programming and monitoring of each dish made, allows for customization and, according to the company, uses deep learning and predictive analysis to reduce operational costs, though it doesn’t say exactly how. Cuismo also integrates with third-party delivery services. The base Cuismo software package is free for a single site. Prices jump to $249/month for up to five different sites and $999/month for an unlimited number of sites.
Beastro is arriving at an opportune time. Euromonitor recently predicted that the ghost kitchen market will hit $1 trillion by 2030 (read our Spoon Plus deep dive market report on ghost kitchens to learn more). Because ghost kitchens are built around delivery, the whole point of them is to get meals prepped and ready quickly, something a robot like Beastro can do around the clock, without taking breaks or, more relevant for our times, calling in sick.
Of course, automating ghost kitchens also brings up the societal issues around labor. If a prolonged pandemic means that ghost kitchens become the dominant venue for restaurants to exist, where will those line and prep cooks go once robots are installed? Not every restaurant brand or ghost kitchen will adopt automation, but what we do with displaced restaurant workers is something we need to deal with.
Kitchen Robotics’ told The Spoon that has received more than $1 million in funding from various investors and CEOs in the industry and that Beastro will be deployed in two major U.S. cities by mid-December of this year.