Robotic Kitchen – Mezli Startup Showcase Robotic Restaurant Kiosk

Robotic Restaurant Kiosks Purpose-Built

Cool new concept, deployed, for robotic restaurants for restaurant automation. As far as kiosks goes this project somehow weaves in the older conventional “kiosk definition”.  Maybe the grain bowls are Turkish in origin. It definitely brings to mind the RMU or Remote Merchandising Unit. And not unlike a Ghost Kitchen albeit one out in the opebn.

We had a call with Alex Kolchinski and were very impressed.

In Brief

  • Robotic kitchen for Mediterranean bowls of food
  • Kind of reminds us of the original “make your own cereal” robots.
  • On third version of automation
  • $3 million seed round from investors
  • Smart Kitchen Summit Startup Showcase has been a launching pad for a variety of food tech startups such as Tovala, SAVRPak, Bostrista, Cultured Decadance, Millo and Freshstix.

Excerpt from The Spoon

Mezli, a maker of robotized container restaurants, has won the 2021 Smart Kitchen Summit Startup Showcase.

The company, which currently operates a prototype restaurant in San Mateo’s KitchenTown, was started after two of the company’s cofounders, Alex Kolchinski and Alex Gruebele, met while studying at Stanford. Like most college students, the two were always on the hunt for food to fuel their studies but usually found the options lacking.

“We’re building up to where we have a whole fleet of these across the country, even across the world, where these are all over the place because they’re cheaper and smaller than restaurants, you can put them in more places.”

From TechCrunch October 2021

Mezli’s prototype robot restaurant is making a minority of the bowls served to customers and is supplemented by a human-powered kitchen. It is up and running and serving customers from the company’s KitchenTown location in San Mateo. The machines take up a 10-foot by 20-foot space and are freestanding. They are loaded with ingredients, initially offering Mediterranean-style grain bowls, side dishes and drinks.

The company is now working on its third version of its prototype that will be ready for a public launch next year, he said. That momentum is backed by a $3 million seed round from investors including Metaplanet, roboticist Pieter Abbeel, restaurateur Zaid Ayoub and Y Combinator. That new funding will enable the company to add more talent, parts, food and operational expenses.

More Robotic Restaurant Kiosk News


Cashierless Store News — Starbucks and Amazon coffee shop in Manhattan

Amazon Go & Starbucks Cashierless Store NY

From CNBC Nov2021

Click for full size Amazon Go Check-in KIosk

Click for full size Amazon Go Check-in KIosk

In Brief

  • Coffee is just one deliverable. A complete range of other “related” goods such as protein bars, chewing gum, salads and sandwiches available
  • Stores like these will have longer hours. That counts.
  • Decor set for solo workers but also group meetings


Key Points

  • Starbucks is opening a pick-up cafe in midtown Manhattan with Amazon that uses the retail giant’s cashierless technology.
  • It’s the latest step in Starbucks’ strategy to update its store footprint to meet consumers’ changing habits.
  • The first Starbucks Pickup with Amazon Go location opens Thursday in New York City on 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, and two more are planned over the next year.


Click for full size Amazon Go Check-in KIosk

Click for full size Amazon Go Check-in KIosk

When customers enter the new store, they’ll first see a counter to pick up the drinks they preordered using the Starbucks mobile app. A digital screen hanging above the counter shows which orders are still being made by baristas.

To take advantage of the convenience of Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, customers can use the palm of their hand, if they’re already registered with Amazon One. Otherwise they can use an in-store code from the Amazon app or insert their credit card. A kiosk near the entry allows customers to join Amazon One by inserting a credit card and scanning their hand.

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Market Research IoT Impact – The Digital Transformation

retail market research

IoT Market Research Predictions 2021

Great report from Kinsey listing markets for IoT. It’s hard to argue with RFID checkout and self-checkout payment is growing leaps and bounds. The old stand at cashier model is at or past the tipping point.  They point to cost reductions in the store.

Key point for us — Adoption of self-checkout use cases is expected to increase from a relatively low 15 to 35 percent of organized retail today to 80 to 90 percent in 2030.

In Brief

  • Markets include:
    • Human Health (2)
    • Home (7)
    • Retail (5)
    • Offices (8)
    • Factories (1)
    • Work Sites (3)
    • Vehicles (8)
    • Cities (4)
    • Outside (9)
  • Economic Value for all projected to be between 5.500 and 12,600 (billions)
  • Top segments in Retail are Self-Checkout, Personalized Promotions and Payments
  • 2015 actual numbers slightly exceeded lower range of predictions then
  • Examples used Amazon, Sephora
  • Interestingly Kinsey groups EV in the Outside segment


  • The 2030 IoT value potential of the developed world will account for 55 percent of the global total, decreasing from 61 percent in 2020. China is becoming a global IoT force, not only as a manufacturing hub and technology supplier but also as an end market for value creation. By 2030, China could generate about 26 percent of the total global value from the IoT, equal to the potential of all emerging markets combined (and above its share of the global economy of about 20 percent).
  • Retail — Potential for economic impact in 2030 Overall, we estimate that applications of the IoT in the Retail Environments setting have an economic value of $0.6 trillion to $1.1 trillion, representing 9 to 12 percent of potential economic value across all settings (Exhibit 14).
  • Today, only a few companies are taking advantage of the wealth of data now available. 74 In a subset of stores, particularly in apparel, retailers are considering RFID-based self-checkout; this technology could become ubiquitous by 2030. In general, stores will adopt self-checkout so they can allocate in-store labor to solve other issues or do what robots cannot yet do (for example, packing boxes or bags for omnichannel orders) when these activities provide a higher return on investment. There is one important caveat: the COVID-19 crisis has had a profound impact on the retail sector, causing significant uncertainty on long-term adoption. On the one hand, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for self- serve and touchless checkout; on the other hand, retailers, particularly smaller ones, have been caught in the financial turmoil of the crisis and have limited cash to make such investments. Recent labor shortages and rising cost also increase pressure on retailers to adopt self- checkout use cases.
Retail Self-Order Market Research

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Inspire Brands first ghost kitchen – Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s, Sonic, Rusty Taco

ghost kitchen inspire

Ghost Kitchens Kickoff for Inspire Brands

From NRN  Joanna Fantozzi | Nov 10, 2021

Alliance Kitchen’s offerings will be available to area customers via brand-specific apps or third-party delivery services.

“Inspire is uniquely positioned to operate a concept like Alliance Kitchen, the first ghost kitchen launched, owned, and operated by a multi-brand restaurant company,” Stephanie Sentell, Inspire Brands senior vice president of restaurant operations and innovation said in a statement. “Inspire’s culture of innovation, coupled with our experience operating nearly 2,000 of our corporate-owned restaurants, enabled us to bring this idea to life successfully.”

Nation’s Restaurant News previously reported on the news that an Inspire Brands ghost kitchen was opening soon in the Atlanta area. In October 2020 during a keynote presentation, Inspire CEO Paul Brown said that they were not quite ready to jump into ghost kitchens yet, but that it could be a fit for them down the line: “We believe that true multi-brand companies like ours that own and operate all the concepts, we’ll be able to more efficiently share back of house and kitchen equipment, etc. because we are the same operator across all those concepts,” Brown said at the time.

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EV Charging Stations, QSRs and Drive-Thrus

EV Charging Stations

EV Charging Stations and Drive Thru Customers

Article from Fast Casual Oct 2021

Three chief benefits QSRs should be aware of if they decide to adopt electric vehicle charging are: ease and cost of deployment; revenue opportunities and brand loyalty. Arcady Sosinov, founder and CEO of FreeWire Technologies, explains how adding EV charging to your operations can be a boon.

In Brief

  • Embracing EVs is a good thing
  • Portray your brand as socially conscious
  • Coveted affluent customers raising loyalty gradient
  • 2% of vehicles now EV — 50% by 2030
  • 100 miles of charge in 10 minutes
  • Infrastructure to support fast charge can be challenging
  • GPS and Map apps will direct customers to you


Ease and cost of deployment

Ultrafast chargers can cost over $100,000 to install, including the cost of local grid upgrades. In most cases, utilities need to be involved, which can complicate and add costs to the installation process. However, an independent study by the Electric Power Research Institute found EV charging companies can save operators of tens of thousands on installation. Additionally, its peak-shaving and load shifting capabilities can reduce energy fees and demand charges by $30,000 annually, lowering operating costs by 70%.

Revenue opportunities

Installing ultrafast chargers enables QSRs to attract and retain customers at minimal cost. EV charging stations appear on a national network. So when drivers need to power up, their GPS and map applications direct them to your restaurant at no cost to you. Drivers appreciate the convenience of being able to eat and power up without making two stops.

EV drivers are appealing customers since on average they make twice the national income. And they’ll be “double-dipping” at your restaurant, buying food and power for their car. The revenue potential from ultrafast charging currently equates to approximately $1 per minute.

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Contactless Technology Integrations – Starship Delivery Robots, Panasonic Smart Food Lockers and Apex Order Pickup Solutions

food lockers panasonic

Panasonic Smart Food Lockers

From BusinessWire Oct 2021

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As college campuses modify operations in response to the ongoing pandemic, Transact, the leader in innovative credential and payment solutions for a connected campus, continues to develop and release technology solutions to benefit students, faculty and staff members’ health and safety. Today Transact announced three new software integrations with Apex Order Pickup Solutions and Panasonic Smart Lockers, which provide automated, contactless order pickup solutions for food service and retail, and with Starship – a mobile technology and autonomous robot platform that allows for fast, cost-efficient and green food and goods delivery.

“Campus life is increasingly busy and colleges and universities are turning to solutions to help students streamline their days. Integrating Transact’s payment solution with Panasonic’s Smart Food Lockers enables students to order and pick up their food at their convenience”

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“Our team is dedicated to providing solutions for the rapidly evolving needs of college campuses,” said Transact Campus Vice President of Product Management Erica Bass. “These systems integrations will help mitigate overcrowding in some heavily trafficked parts of campus, provide students with additional food service options, and offer a safe delivery option for those who may need to isolate or quarantine. We are committed to putting the safety of students at the forefront of all our work at Transact.”

Transact’s integration with Starship’s app and robot delivery platform allows users to order from any restaurant or store that partners with Starship and deduct funds through Transact’s closed loop payment system. Transact is currently installing systems for up to 10 colleges and universities. New and existing Transact clients will easily be able to enable this functionality and the integration is already available on some campuses.

“While our robots were doing deliveries long before the pandemic began, they’ve never been so important as right now, making life a little bit easier, especially in settings like college campuses,” said Chris Neider, Senior Manager, Business Development, Starship. “The integration with Transact’s payment system makes ordering food that much easier for students – they can use funds they’ve already designated for campus spending.”

Transact also collaborated with Panasonic to develop a closed loop payment integration with Panasonic’s Smart Food Locker solution. Higher education campuses that deploy these locker systems offer streamlined food pickup facilitated by a QR or pin code. This contactless order and retrieval process allows students to receive their food without waiting in long lines or interacting with restaurant or dining hall staff. With heavy foot traffic around campus, Panasonic’s Smart Food Lockers stand in as a solution to reduce crowding during peak times when social distancing is a top priority.

“Campus life is increasingly busy and colleges and universities are turning to solutions to help students streamline their days. Integrating Transact’s payment solution with Panasonic’s Smart Food Lockers enables students to order and pick up their food at their convenience,” said Eric Symon, Vice President of the Enterprise Process Innovation Center, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America. “Our Food Smart Lockers host enclosed and temperature-controlled environments to help reduce cross contamination for certain allergies and dietary restrictions while keeping food at peak freshness – hot or cold. We’re excited to work with Transact to offer this streamlined dining solution to students so that they can spend more time experiencing the important parts of campus life.”

Transact has developed a similar closed loop payment integration with Apex Order Pickup Solutions. Each of these integrations allow students to use their campus card funds to make purchases through the vendor’s system or app. In addition to convenience, these partner solutions are secure – keeping payment information private and ensuring that goods get to the intended recipient.

“Colleges and universities continue to turn to Apex for guidance on how to offer streamlined, contactless pickup solutions that fit their specific campus needs,” said Mike Rizzo, Chief Growth Officer for Apex Order Pickup Solutions. “We believe our innovative solution paired with Transact’s payment capabilities, gives students fast, digital options that not only will outlast the pandemic environment, but also will better position campuses to serve their communities in a more seamless way in the future. Contactless pickup is a long-term trend that will continue to evolve over the coming years.”

For more information or to schedule a demonstration of Transact’s campus solutions, visit Follow Transact on Twitter and LinkedIn and join the conversation.

About Transact

Transact is the leader in innovative payment solutions for a connected campus. Its highly configurable, mobile-centric campus technology ecosystem simplifies the student experience across the full spectrum of student life. Transact’s offerings include integrated solutions for tuition and other student expense payments, multi-purpose campus IDs, and campus commerce. With a long-standing reputation of serving the education community, Transact proudly assists millions of students each year with its innovative products and solutions. For more information, visit

About Apex Order Pickup Solutions

Apex is a leading global provider of self-serve automated pickup solutions for use in foodservice, retail and b-to-b ecommerce. The Apex Heated Pickup Station was a recipient of the 2019 Kitchen Innovations Award from the National Restaurant Association. Apex contactless order pickup solutions are in use in over 4,000 restaurant, foodservice and retail locations globally. Apex is headquartered in Mason, Ohio. For more information, visit

About Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America

Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, delivers game-changing technology solutions that deliver customized experiences to drive better outcomes—for our customers and our customers’ customers. Panasonic designs and manufactures reliable, flexible and dependable products and solutions to help create, capture and deliver information of all types, especially where, when and how it is needed. The complete suite of Panasonic professional solutions for government and commercial enterprises of all sizes addresses unified business communications, mobile computing, security and surveillance, retail point-of-sale, office productivity, audio and visual systems (projectors, displays & digital signage) and professional video production. To learn more and Panasonic’s business products and solutions visit:

About Starship

Starship Technologies is revolutionizing deliveries with autonomous robots. The robots are designed to deliver food, groceries and packages locally in minutes. The delivery robots have traveled millions of miles and completed over 1.6m autonomous deliveries around the world. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time. Starship was founded by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis (Skype Chief Architect and Co-founder) and Alastair Westgarth is the CEO.


Elizabeth McKinnon
ShinePR for Transact Campus
[email protected]

Martha Holler
Acting CMO, Transact Campus
[email protected]

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Restaurant Drive-thrus Slower and Less Accurate

McDonalds Drive Thru Ordering

Digital Menu Board News

From CNBC Sep 2021

Latest study numbers show that Drive Thrus are getting slower and they are getting less accurate.  The pandemic has juggled the longer and shorter menu offerings that restaurants offer and the degree of customization. Much easier to go inside to a McDonalds for example and order a hamburger specifically the way you like it. Can’t do that via a drive thru.

Data from SeeLevel HX

In Brief

  • The average total time spent in the drive-thru lane increased by more than 25 seconds from a year ago to 382 seconds.
  • Order accuracy dropped to 85% this year from 87% in 2020.
  • The study offers one way to speed up drive-thru times and improve accuracy: invest in technology.
  • SeeLevel HX found that drive-thru lanes with digital order confirmation boards delivered the food to customers 34 seconds faster on average this year.
  • Companies covered include Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., KFC and Burger King


  • Drive-thrus have become slower and less accurate in 2021, according to SeeLevel HX’s annual study.
  • SeeLevel HX used mystery shoppers to wait in drive-thru lines across 10 chains and 1,492 restaurant locations from July through early August to compile the annual study.
  • The average total time spent in the drive-thru lane increased by more than 25 seconds from a year ago to 382 seconds.

Read full story From CNBC Sep 2021

Grocery News – Schnucks Adds AI Robots and Digital Storytelling For Beer and Wine Shoppers

Grocery News – Schnucks Adds AI Robots and Digital Storytelling

Couple of news items from Progressive Grocer today August 31, 2021 —

Digital Storytelling — Partnership with Looma will connect consumers to people and stories behind products — Marian Zboraj 

Digital Editor
Marian Zboraj profile picture

Marian Zboraj Digital Editor

Every bottle tells a story, and retail tech startup Looma is making sure that in-store Schnucks shoppers get the 411 before making their purchasing decisions. Looma has partnered with Schnuck Markets Inc. to bring an at-shelf digital storytelling platform to beer and wine departments at 89 Schnucks stores. Known as Loop, the program introduces shoppers to the real people who craft the products via short, human-centric videos playing on smart tablets.

According to Looma, brands see an average of 92% sales growth when featured on Loop, followed by 25% the following month. When the solution is installed on an end cap, the end cap sells 51% more product, while 30% of shoppers trying a Loop-featured product are trying it for the first time.

St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc. operates more than 100 stores in four states and employs more than 13,000 associates. The company is No. 64 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Automat Dumplings At Dallas Restaurant

From Dallas News August 2021

Brooklyn Dumpling Shop Delivers automat dining to Dallas

Dumpling Automat

Click for full-size image — Dumpling Automat

In Brief:

  • Combination automatic self-service ordering + lockers (temp controlled)
  • Couple of kiosks + wall of lockers
  • Vimeo Video of process
  • Franchise opportunities
  • Very nice press coverage
  • Wonderful history of the automat
  • Food looks great!
  • Please come to Denver!


If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, automats were vending machine-style restaurants that served cafeteria-style food throughout the early 1900s. Fast food innovation and inflation eventually made the practice impractical. What was once a popular and modern style of dining eventually all but died off.

But as the pandemic changed our appetite for indoor, contact-heavy dining, the possibilities for a once-outdated concept reemerged. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop only debuted in New York’s East Village in May 2021, but the brand has already signed franchise deals for locations throughout New York, Florida, Texas and more.

“It’s an incomparable brand — the reimagination of the automat concept is enough to get people in the door, but the high-quality and uniqueness of the dumplings is what keeps customers coming back every time,” says Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s franchise development partner.

How does it work?

Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s contactless ordering system uses temperature-controlled food lockers to offer guests a pretty efficient contactless pickup option. First, you order ahead online or at a kiosk in real-time.

Once an order is ready, it’s inserted into one of the lockers. Customers are notified and can then scan their phones and pick up their food. Seems easy enough.

automat dumpling dallas

automat dumpling dallas

Cash Bill Payment Coming to Dollar General, Family Dollar and 7-Eleven

In-Store Cash Bill Payment News

Cash bill payment

Cash bill payment

From PaymentsDive

New angle by InComm leveraging their networks to rope in the underbanked and unbanked.  The numbers from the FDIC based on 2019 survey data details around 22 million in that under and not banked demographic.  Interesting 2021 data statistics showing countries and their rates of unbanked. Vietnam for example almost 70% unbanked.  Cash, which is declining in U.S. as transactional component, would seem to be highly used in many countries.

In Brief

  • InComm Payments and Doxo will allow customers to pay bills with cash at some 60,000 retail locations across the U.S., the companies announced Thursday.
  • Retailer network relationships include Dollar General, Family Dollar and select 7-Eleven stores.


In their announcement, Atlanta-based InComm and Seattle-based Doxo noted the prevalence of bills paid by U.S. consumers in cash. Specifically, they said about 12% of bills, or nearly 1.9 billion bills paid annually by U.S. households, are paid in cash, citing the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

The companies are creating the new cash services, often used by underbanked and unbanked U.S. consumers, at a time of national focus on extending financial services to such consumers.