Why are you reading this and not grilling up a delicious Beyond Burger this holiday weekend?
As long as you’re here, let’s take a quick look at the week in restaurants. And what a week it was. With states halting the reopening of dining rooms, it’s clear the effects of the pandemic are far from over in the restaurant industry. Yet business keeps on, and there were a number of noteworthy developments from this week around ghost kitchens, AI pizza checkers, and the greatest diner of all time.
NORMS, a much-loved diner chain in Southern California, this week debuted NORMS Junior, a new store prototype geared towards to-go orders. The company says NORMS Junior will be the model for future NORMS locations — no surprise, given the pandemic’s effect on dining rooms (see above). NRN has some great slides of what this new NORMS will look like.
Next Stop for Wingstop: Ghost Kitchens
Also riding the off-premises wave strong is fast-casual chain Wingstop, who this week opened its first ghost kitchen in its hometown of Dallas, TX. The new facility is less than 400 square feet and is for delivery-only orders. Wingstop says one of its goals is to digitize 100 percent of its transactions. A delivery-only ghost kitchen will aid in that.
Taco Bell Redoes Digital Rewards
Simply dubbed Taco Bell Rewards, the new app-based loyalty program comes five years after the band’s original rewards program. Apparently the idea of a new loyalty app was so popular it sent Taco Bell traffic through the roof and temporarily crashed the site. To access the new rewards program, customers can download the latest version of the Taco Bell app, which includes a beta version of Taco Bell Rewards.
AI Will Continue Checking Your Pizzas
Domino’s and Dragontail Systems said this week they will continue their partnership, which puts Dragontail’s AI tech in Domino’s restaurants to ensure quality. The smart scanner uses advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sensor technology to check the quality of pies before the go out for delivery. (Dragontail’s tech can also be used to ensure proper sanitization in restaurants.) The continuation of the partnership means more of these pizza scanners across more Domino’s locations. So far, the partnership between the two companies has been limited to Domino’s locations Australia. They have not yet said if this extended partnership will bring the technology to stores elsewhere in the world.