Denver-based virtual restaurant company Nextbite offers restaurants with excess kitchen capacity the ability to boost revenue through licensing agreements with the company's 20 delivery-only brands. Chinese food and pizza continue to prove particularly popular, CEO Alex Canter said, along with breakfast sandwiches and tacos.
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As CEO of White Castle, the iconic chain founded by her great-grandfather, Lisa Ingram has used her experience in the technology industry to embrace cutting-edge tools like Flippy the fry-making robot and Julia, the digital voice assistant at the drive-thru. "I'm always looking at tech to help us continue to be relevant, but the tech industry is a lot like the restaurant industry -- both are ever evolving," said Ingram, who is one of five nominees for Restaurant Business Restaurant Leader of the Year.
Matt Prince, Taco Bell's senior manager of PR and brand experience, discusses how he's striving to make the quickservice chain a cultural force through innovative efforts such as celebrity deals and meals, as well as his excitement regarding today's digital marketplace. "The work at Taco Bell that's most exciting is when we get to connect with our fans where they already are and fuel that fandom even more; experimenting with these new arenas has tons of potential," Prince said.
BurgerFi's tests of digital ordering kiosks are showing benefits in terms of higher average checks while reducing the number of employees needed in the front of the house. Four BurgerFi locations are currently testing the kiosks, and CFO Michael Rabinovitch said the chain plans to decide early in 2022 if it will roll out the technology to all locations.
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Artificial intelligence will play a key role in the transformation of the restaurant industry over the next decade as automation takes on greater importance, writes Nandini Roy Choudhury of Future Market Insights. Choudhury envisions a day when autonomous vehicles transport consumers to automated drive-thrus and kiosks take and process orders using facial recognition software.
The rise in digital restaurant technology and innovation in off-premises dining have surged in recent years, and restaurants should invest in making their digital storefronts a true reflection of their brands, Lunchbox co-founder and CEO Nabeel Alamgir said. "It is about expanding your culture and your brand...We're going to allow you to do that and continue to do that as we move to a new digital world of off-premises," said Alamgir, who is one of 50 restaurant industry leaders on the Nation's Restaurant News 2022 Power List.
Attack anticipation, fraud detection and risk score analysis are among the ways that machine learning and artificial intelligence can improve cybersecurity going forward. Chief information security officers report that they're concentrating the technology on safeguarding transactions centering around machines.
A growing number of plant-based protein companies are working to bring products that mimic whole cuts of meat to market, including Impossible Foods and startups such as Novameat and Juicy Marbles. Other plant-based trends to look out for this year include the rise of meat alternatives made from fungi, cleaner ingredient labels and plant-based seafood alternatives.
Investment in cultured meat ventures soared to approximately $2 billion over the past two years, according to Crunchbase, as companies and consumers continue to seek alternatives to traditional animal agriculture. Eat Just was the first company to win regulatory approval for lab-grown chicken in Singapore, and the company and others are working to scale production of meat made from animal cells to bring down costs.