In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.
Here’s your list for today:
- Whitsons upgrades K-12 unit-level communication network
FM Top 50 firm Whitsons Culinary Group, which provides customized dining services to public schools and other clients in the Northeast, has announced a new project with food-tech platform Culinary Digital to the launch Café Connections digital network across 110 school districts, bridging the communication gap for onsite staff and allowing Whitsons to deliver real-time information and updates directly to the onsite teams. In addition to managing the content on screens at each school with ease and helping to develop skills and keep team members engaged, Café Connections will inform staff with real-time information on new products, plans, training, features, or recalls; provide responsive communication between the corporate/district office and onsite teams; and offer flexibility by the system to personalize messages across each district.
- Poll shows general desire to reduce dependence on virtual services post-COVID
Many Americans don’t expect to rely on the digital services that became commonplace during the pandemic after COVID-19 subsides, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with close to half or more of U.S. adults saying they are not likely to attend virtual activities, receive virtual healthcare, have groceries delivered or use curbside pickup after the coronavirus pandemic is over, though many also want the option to remain. “Rather than this either-or, I think we’re more likely to be facing a hybrid future,” said Donna Hoffman, director of the Center for the Connected Consumer at the George Washington School of Business. “People have found convenience in some of these virtual options that just makes sense, and they don’t necessarily have anything to do with like keeping you safe or the pandemic even though they came of age during the pandemic.”
- Campus robots seen as assisting, not replacing, human staff
After announcing their partnership last month to offer autonomous deliveries on college campuses, online order platform Grubhub and self-driving robotics company Cartken stressed that the move is meant to complement, not supplant, human staff. “[We’re] augmenting the current runners that they have and the volumes that Grubhub sees on the campuses,” said Cartken Co-founder/COO Anjali Naik. "That’s really where robots fit in nicely, to shuttle food around in these short distance at those volume...We’ve always seen this as something that will expand traditional delivery options, having this add-on to the delivery network that we see today.”
- Robot invasion alarms hospitality unions
A fledgling line of robots has begun to fill jobs at short-staffed hotels, and labor groups are sounding alarms that the budding army of automatons, which currently numbers at least 200 nationwide, is threatening to grow and replace dues-paying members. However, the American Hotel & Lodging Association notes that the hospitality industry lost 1.3 million jobs over the past two years, and that some 49% of hoteliers say their properties are “severely understaffed.”
- Fully automated spaghetti restaurant opens in Tokyo
Japanese cafe chain operator Pronto Corp. has opened a spaghetti restaurant featuring fully automatic cooking in Tokyo, allowing a minimum workforce to serve dishes. The P-Robo cooking robot, developed jointly with Tokyo-based tech firm TechMagic K.K., prepares a dish of spaghetti basically in 45 seconds, automating the cooking process from boiling pasta to mixing with sauce and other ingredients, and all human staffers then have to do is to put the cooked spaghetti on plates, add some toppings and serve.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]