Robotics and Automation in the Restaurant Industry

Robotics and Automation in the Restaurant Industry

Since the dawn of time, innovators replaced bare-handed human activity first with tools, then with machines. Today’s industry influencers are those ready to take next steps, harnessing robotics to operate businesses with greater precision and efficiency, further reducing human input.

The first automat, called appropriately enough, Automat, opened in New York July 2, 1912, in Times Square. The innovative dining idea was successfully marketed with, “gleaming, newfangled gadgets that dispensed fresh food barely touched by human hands.” At the height of this fast food trend centered in New York, there were 40 Automats. The last one, at East 42nd Street and Third Avenue, closed in 1991.

If you’re old enough to remember the glory days of the Automat, you’ll be happy to know they’re back…in a 21st-century incarnation.

If you’re old enough to remember the glory days of the Automat, you’ll be happy to know they’re back…in a 21st-century incarnation. One new automated dining experience comes to us under the brand Eatsa, currently in San Francisco and Los Angeles and preparing to expand to 10 additional locations.

Like the Horn & Hardart Automats of the early 20th century, the concept behind Eatsa is to serve low-cost fast fresh food without human interaction. And like the Horn & Hardart Automat, Eatsa also features “gleaming, newfangled gadgets that dispense fresh food…”

The key to this brave new world is to find the most effective cooperative relationship between us and our machines.

Eatsa isn’t fully automated, though. Human hands put together quinoa bowls behind a cubby wall where customers pick up their orders. But actually, that human-machine partnership is also trending these days. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “proposes that human qualities like creativity and empathy, paired with the raw computational power of A.I. can help solve some of society’s greatest problems.” The key to this brave new world is to find the most effective cooperative relationship between us and our machines. Eatsa seems to have a combo that works for its customers.

Co-founders Tim Young and Scott Drummond, “looking to create a convenient, low-cost health food concept, fused advanced technology with the long-abandoned automat format.” Same purpose…different technology. In the older incarnation, nickles and quarters activated delivery, and ultimately that mode of delivery caused its demise since the patented mechanical dispensers accepted only nickels and quarters in their slots.

“We’re using data science to drive the whole Eatsa experience,” chief strategy officer and co-founder Scott Drummond said to Fast Company. “Cashiers won’t be a limitation.” Apparently, neither will coin-operated dispensers.

Many of us crave speed and low-cost, but many of us still enjoy an evening out for fine dining.

Momentum Machines takes a different approach than Eatsa, going for the back of the house instead of the front. “In 2014, the company released a device that essentially worked like a printing press for hamburgers. The robot pressed patties, chopped toppings, and assembled the ingredients into a sumptuous-looking sandwich.” This fall the world’s first robot-powered burger bar opened in San Francisco.

Many of us crave speed and low-cost, but many of us still enjoy an evening out for fine dining. For familiarity if nothing else, we like our humans in the environment. Our objective isn’t speed but a relaxing, elegant evening. While fine dining restaurants probably want to keep workers in the picture for ambiance, even they benefit from robotics. “Maybe they’ll focus still on making the food by hand and focusing on quality ingredients,” says Sarah Smith, a researcher at IFTF’s Food Futures Lab, “but there could be parts of the experience that could have some level of automation.”

Robotics may even enter into some home dining experiences. “The future is served” with Moley Kitchen Robotics. It’s easy to imagine versions of these automated chefs replacing line cooks even in fine dining environments.

The best estimates find that up to 50% of jobs could be automated by the late 2030s, with restaurant workers among the most vulnerable to displacement.

Not only smaller fast food businesses are exploring robotics. McDonald’s, which started with Ray Kroc’s idea of “uniformity in service and quality among all of the McDonald’s locations,” also took next steps toward the future. During the last two years, the company opened the beta version of a fully automated McDonald’s in Phoenix in the hope of opening 25,000 more of them if the test succeeds. The new robots work in harmony at a speed 50 times faster than the average McDonald’s employee, with no chance of error. There, too, robots cooperate with humans who supervise them to make certain all is well.

Data-driven robotics is an area of technology with a big future. Indeed, a lot of what happens in restaurants these days is automated. The best estimates find that up to 50% of jobs could be automated by the late 2030s, with restaurant workers among the most vulnerable to displacement.

Of course, those lower staffing costs will eventually present Americans with a different set of challenges as machines replace the jobs of many people.

The advantages of robotics in the restaurant industry are obvious; robotics mean lower labor costs, uniformity and easy customization to name a few of the benefits often stated.

Of course, those lower staffing costs will eventually present Americans with a different set of challenges as machines replace the jobs of many people. Hopefully, American creativity and innovation will address these issues as effectively as they have the healthy, cost-effective, fast meal or efficient food production in fine dining environments.

In the meantime, coming soon to a location near you…fast casual healthy fresh dining where you can focus on your dining experience and companions, not the waiter or cashier — and even fine dining where unbeknownst to you, robots work swiftly and skillfully to prepare your elegant meal.

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Sirvo Says: 5 Denver Restaurant “Hidden Gems”

Sirvo Says: 5 Denver Restaurant “Hidden Gems”

Whether you’ve just arrived in Denver or have been here for some time, there are a few spots in town that only a few of us know about. Most of these places have been around the Denver scene for some time and if they haven’t, they sure feel like they have. We have compiled a short list of establishments that would be great for entertaining friends from out of town, taking your S.O. to or checking out alone on those days you are feeling adventurous. We present for you, Sirvo Says: 5 Hidden Denver Restaurant “Hidden Gems”.  

1. Potager

Potager is the creation of Chef Teri Rippeto and her father Tom. This lovely establishment has been one of the best restaurants in Denver since 1997. Long before the farm to table trends that have hit the local (or even national) scene, this garden-inspired menu changes with the seasons and utilizes those fresh seasonal ingredients in an awe inspiring and delectable way. Part of their vision states, “It is crucially important that we do something we feel good about, everyday”. This bodes true for rest of us when trying to find that perfect place to dine. Potager is located in the Cap Hill neighborhood at 1109 Ogden, Denver CO 80218.

2. Devil’s Food

Devil’s Food, what a name! There is nothing evil about this lovely Wash Park establishment, it is more heavenly and charming than anything else. While the neighborhood may be a bit “upscale”, the interior of Devil’s Food is everything but. They first opened their doors in 1999 and it is definitely the type of restaurant one seeks out when they are looking for a place that has a little character. They recently just added onto their location at 1020 South Gaylord, Denver CO 80209, where they will be one part bakery and one part restaurant. Keep in mind, there may be a line if you choose to go there for brunch. So worth it…

3. Ernie’s Bar & Pizza

Established in 1948, Ernie’s Bar & Pizza is a throwback with a contemporary twist. This pizza establishment features fresh made dough and mozzarella that add a unique flavor to their delicious pizza. Selected by the Westword in 2015 as Denver’s Best NY Style Pizza, Ernie’s does not disappoint. Not only do they have 30 beers on tap, but they also infuse their own whiskey. Located in the Sunnyside neighborhood at 2915 W 44th Ave. Denver, CO 80211, Ernie’s is worth the visit for pizza lovers and is a great place to entertain friends or family. 

4. Solitaire

Say it’s your anniversary and you are trying to find the perfect place to go that has great food and a romantic atmosphere, Solitaire is the place you are looking for. Nestled in the Highlands neighborhood at 927 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80212, this wonderful restaurant has only graced our presence since 2015. The service is hospitable and the Charred Spanish Octopus is almost reason enough to go. Chef/Owner Mark Ferguson overtook the space when a former Denver restaurant hidden gem, Highland’s Garden Cafe, closed its doors after 20 years.

5. Adrift Tiki Bar

Recently purchased by the owners of Little Man Ice Cream (a not so hidden gem), Adrift Tiki Bar residing at 218 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209, is quite the restaurant for those looking for a unique experience within the Denver dining scene. With an exotic ambiance and a cache of rum based cocktails, Adrift is one of a kind. It’s dark, it’s got an island vibe and the Polynesian/Hawaiian themed menu is to die for. Adrift reminds us of how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful city, with an eclectic and thriving food culture. 

We here at Sirvo are in love with Denver and enjoy exploring all of the different places there are to eat and drink in town. The hospitality scene (especially locally) is growing fast and is a great industry for those seeking a job that supports a work/life balance. Head to our job board to see all of our open listings and then set a date to visit all of these hidden gems!

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Sirvo Partners With EatDenver

Sirvo Partners With EatDenver

EatDenver becomes a Sirvo partner to offer its members streamlined hiring and business tools tailored to the Denver culinary community.

DENVER, COLORADO – August 1, 2016 – Sirvo, the premier web app for hospitality and restaurant recruitment, today announced a partnership with EatDenver, a nonprofit organization of locally-owned independent restaurants committed to supporting and promoting the value of independent dining within the Denver community. Together, EatDenver and Sirvo will provide independent restaurants across the city with better candidate reach and a streamlined hiring process.

“We’ve been a huge fan of EatDenver for years and are excited to contribute to the organization. With a more cost-effective way to hire, these independently-owned and operated restaurants can continue to focus on their forté – satisfying the foodie tastes of Denver.”   – Stephanie Maxwell, Sirvo CEO

Through the partnership, EatDenver will now have a fully integrated careers page on its website and EatDenver members will receive discounted pricing on the Sirvo platform. All member job listings will be displayed on both EatDenver and Sirvo as well as on Sirvo’s partner networks allowing EatDenver restaurants to engage with top talent across the state.

For more information about Sirvo’s partnership with EatDenver, click here.

About Sirvo

Sirvo, named Best New Startup 2015 is a modern web app for hospitality recruitment. Sirvo helps better connect employers and job seekers by providing easy access to business and talent profiles, powerful search, as well as collaborative hiring tools for a smooth, streamlined hiring process. For more information about Sirvo, visit Sirvo.com.

About EatDenver

EatDenver is a nonprofit organization of locally-owned independent restaurants committed to supporting and promoting the value of independent dining within our community. Their mission is to connect Denver’s independent restaurateurs and provide a forum where members can offer insight, support and wisdom to one another. For more information about EatDenver, visit EatDenver.com

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Jobs in the Food Industry You’ve Never Heard Of

Jobs in the Food Industry You’ve Never Heard Of

The food industry has its standard cornerstone jobs — chef, waiter, baker, bartender and so on. You’ll see no end of job listings of this nature, but the jobs we’re highlighting today are much more uncommon. Check out these unusual food industry positions to see if it might be time for a career change!

 Professional Egg Peeler

Egg peeling is a task that nearly every restaurant has to deal with, but it’s usually relegated to a harried and low-paid food prep worker as one of their many daily duties. However, If you work at a company that deals with packaged hard-boiled eggs, peeling eggs might just end up being all you do at work, all day long. Some examples of the larger companies that deal in thousands of packaged boiled eggs per day include Sauder’s Eggs, Michael Foods and Eggland’s Best.

The Egg Peeler doesn’t peel all these by hand, of course; they’re usually at the controls of an industrial machine that both boils and peels the eggs. Professional Egg Peelers take pride in their ability to do it the old-fashioned way when called upon, however, often competing to set world records for speed!

Food Stylist

Food styling is sort of like flower arranging, just with food. The stylist arranges and places food to make it look as appealing, fresh and delicious as possible. Why would they do this? Primarily, they’re prepping food for pictures or video to be used in advertisements or cookbooks.

The stylist needs to be a professional photographer, but they also need to be a power shopper and a chef.

The stylist needs to be a professional photographer, of course, but they also need to be a power shopper and a chef as they’re usually in charge of obtaining all the raw materials and preparing them for the shoot.

The most interesting thing about what the Food Stylist does is that for most food shoots, they don’t take shortcuts with inedible artificial materials. While their result looks unrealistically good, especially when it comes to fast food burgers, it’s almost always in a form that you could pick up and eat.

Culinary Trend Researcher

Also sometimes referred to as a “Trendologist”, these experts have to keep their finger on the pulse of every aspect of the food industry to determine what’s trending and popular in people’s kitchens and on menus.

The big restaurant chains and frozen meal companies usually employ at least a few Trendologists to help them decide when to change their menus up or add new items.

Nutritional supplement companies also sometimes use the services of a Trend Researcher to help them determine what ingredients they should add to products such as fat burners, or what new flavors they should roll out in their protein powder lines.

Forager

Certain upscale restaurants are committed to using only ingredients that grow naturally in the wild. That means that somebody has to go out in the wild to get them! Enter the Foragers, a group of mostly independent entrepreneurs who sometimes contract out with restaurants or individual chefs to supply them with the wild edibles they need for their kitchens.

Foragers contract out with restaurants or individual chefs to supply them with the wild edibles they need for their kitchens.

Foragers hit the woods, fields, and forests looking for things like wild mushrooms, patches of wild spinach and edible weeds. Of course, it’s critical for a forager to know what is edible and what is dangerous, and some states are now requiring people who sell foraged food commercially to be licensed and bonded.

Brand Rover

Many of the larger food brands employ a “Rover” as a sort of traveling brand ambassador. They hit festivals and conventions all around the country giving out free samples and chatting with people to get real first hand impressions about the food.

Candy giant Mars is one company known to employ Rovers for many of their individual brands. Naturally, the companies that hire Rovers deal in foods of the non-perishable variety.

Pet Food Taste Tester

Yes, this is an actual job and yes, humans put pet food in their mouths (when it’s safe to do so). It turns out that despite their sometimes disgusting eating habits, household pets like cats and dogs tend to have very similar food tastes as humans.

As with wine tasting, you’re not supposed to swallow, but you do have to chew the food thoroughly.

As with wine tasting, you’re not supposed to swallow, but you do have to chew the food thoroughly. Pet foods are required to use meats and other ingredients that are safe for human consumption, but there’s no requirement for them to smell pleasant, so this can be quite the challenging job!
 

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11 Colorado Food Blogs You Should Read

11 Colorado Food Blogs You Should Read

From high altitude baking to Southwestern recipes, to Denver’s and Boulder’s burgeoning food scene, there’s plenty of fodder for local food bloggers to cover. Here is DiningOut’s list of 11 Colorado food blogs to read

11 Colorado Food Blogs You Should Follow

Blogger: Ashlae Warner

Homebase: Denver

History: I started Oh, Ladycakes in late-2011, as a way to chronicle my adventures in baking.

Specialty: Vegan baked goods (and other sweet confections) that don’t taste like they’re vegan. Basically, I could trick your meat-loving uncle (who thinks vegan is synonymous with the word gross) into eating one of my desserts. And he’d probably ask for seconds, too.

Favorite CO restaurant: It’s always changing, but I’m currently digging Mercantile Dining & Provisions. The space is stunning and the vegan plate (not officially on the menu) is always outta-this-world delicious.

11 Colorado Food blogs to FollowBlogger: Jennifer Yu

Homebase: I split my time between Nederland and Crested Butte.

History: I started the blog in 2004 to write down my thoughts after the untimely death of my only sister earlier that year. It eventually evolved into a personal blog full of photos and stories about my daily life including lots of food. In 2007, I stripped out the most personal content and went public with my food blog so I could participate in a fun and supportive group of food bloggers called The Daring Bakers (now The Daring Kitchen).

Specialty: My blog is about me—my life in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, my dog, outdoor adventures, places I like to eat, my cancer, some travels, some thoughts, some science, and lots of recipes with step-by-step photographs. There is plenty of photography because I’m a visual person. It’s part diary, part archive, and part a place to share things that I find beautiful, fascinating, or delicious. I don’t specialize in anything other than whatever is on my mind.

Favorite CO restaurant: That’s a tough one, because both Boulder and Crested Butte have great restaurant scenes and I know Denver does, too—although I don’t get to Denver often (I prefer to stay in the mountains).  I would have to go with Frasca in Boulder, because the food and wine are divine, and the service is beyond exceptional.

11 Food Colorado Blogs to FollowBlogger: Lauren Grier

Homebase: Denver (the Highlands)

History: I started Climbing Grier Mountain (CGM) in 2010 as a way to showcase all the wonderful experiences one can have while living in Colorado. The stories from CGM quickly morphed from just lifestyle to more food-focused when I got married, and figured it was time to learn how to cook a proper meal. I was working in the financial industry in 2010, and I lost my job due to the market crash. I figured the best way to pass the time between job interviews was to teach myself how to cook. If I could cook, I imagined that others could do the same.

Specialty: Curiosity.

Favorite CO restaurant: My favorite restaurant right now is Blue Pan Pizza. Their Detroit-style pizza is absolute perfection. Cheesy-topped dough with crispy edges—I’m hungry just thinking about it. I always order either the Parma Italia or Rocky Mountain.

11 Food Blogs to FollowBlogger: Elana Amsterdam

Homebase: Boulder

History: I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1998. I tried a gluten-free diet and had mixed results so went on a grain-free, or paleo, diet in 2001. I started blogging to share my recipes as well as research on health issues in 2006 with others. Now, I have more than 800 recipes on my website and have written three cookbooks for Random House.

Specialty: My recipes are incredibly simple. I use very few ingredients and test my recipes more than a dozen times to make sure they really work for my readers. I get a lot of feedback thanking me for short ingredient lists and recipes that work.

Favorite CO restaurant: Larkspur in Vail. The food is incredible and they easily handle requests for special diets. Thomas Salamunovich is a genius.

Toni-Dash-BoulderLocavore-Head-Shot-BoulderLocavore.com-76Blogger: Toni Dash

Homebase: Boulder

History: I did a personal experiment to see if I could source my protein and produce exclusively from within a 100-mile radius over a winter in Colorado. I succeeded and in the process discovered all sorts of new farmers, markets, and food artisans. People constantly asked for my resources so I decided to start a blog in September 2010.

Specialty: Exciting, approachable seasonal food and cocktail recipes with twists that are all gluten-free, most also with a gluten option (if not naturally gluten-free). I also share travel stories—often with a food focus.

Favorite CO restaurant: Very difficult to answer, but I’ve been smitten with The Kitchen since it originally opened in Boulder. I love their food quality, innovative recipes, focus on sustainable practices, and involvement with the larger food movement through projects like supporting school gardens. And I found my farm CSA through them!

11 Food Blogs to FollowBlogger: Claire Walters

Homebase: Boulder

History: “Culinary Colorado,” my guidebook to Colorado restaurants, gourmet food stores, artisanal bakeries, cheeseries, cooking schools, wine specialists, food festivals, etc., did really well as soon as it came out of the bindery, but became outdated quickly. It proved too complicated/costly to create an immediate second edition only to face the same challenge again. When the publisher decided not to issue a second edition, I added a “Dining Diary” page to my website. Then when blogging appeared, I launched on October 10, 2006.

Specialty: I write about meals I’ve eaten and food I’ve cooked, trends, and news that intrigues me. My blog is Colorado-centric, but not Colorado exclusive, so I also celebrate Colorado chefs and restaurants that appear on “top” or “best” lists.

Favorite CO restaurant: I have no single favorite. That’s not a cop-out. It’s the truth. My favorite might be where my last delicious meal was–or one serving the food I’m in the mood for. One thing is that I do not go to chains–unless a restaurant is part of the [Frank] Bonanno empire, the Frasca [Food and Wine] family, the [Jen] Jasinski/[Beth] Gruitch collection, or similar.

11 food blogs to followBlogger: Nicole Espinosa

Homebase: Southeast Aurora

History: I’ve always baked with my mom as a child, and my grandma was an amazing baker and cook as well. I started the blog in 2009 when I lived in Boston for college–it was called Small Kitchen Big Head because I had maybe the smallest kitchen in America. I have also always been a writer and went to school for journalism. When I moved back to Colorado, I started to improve my baking skills. I’d be baking just as much whether I blogged about it or not, so blogging is just an excuse for me to keep on baking!

Specialty: Baking and sweets are really my passion. I’m also building up some high-altitude baking resources as I learn more, which I think are too sparsely available online today–it’s hard to find high altitude recipes that actually work! I have a high altitude section on my site that I’m building up.

Favorite CO restaurant: Right now, I’m obsessed with a small breakfast and lunch spot in Aurora called The French Press. They make graham cracker syrup to go with stuffed french toast and other sweets, and it’s incredible! They also have chorizo biscuits and gravy that are EVERYTHING.

11 food blogs to followBlogger: Grace Boyle

Homebase: I live in Longmont and work in Boulder.

History: I had been blogging since 2008 on my personal blog, while also working at my day job in the blogging/publisher industry, so it was part of my day-to-day already. I love uncovering hidden restaurants when traveling, cooking, providing tips on where to eat (I get so many: “Where should I bring my family when they’re in town” questions), and sharing my love of food and how it binds us as people, so it felt very aligned to start another blog on food. A trip to Taos, New Mexico inspired me to finally take the leap in October 2010 so I could share the incredible food I had there.

Specialty: I’m keenly aware of restaurant openings and food stories in Colorado, so as a naturally curious person, I keep readers up-to-date. As an Italian, I care deeply about food and feel strongly that no matter where you’re from or your beliefs, food is one of those few things that connects us. I like to think that insatiable passion comes through in my words as I showcase interesting and delectable stories about food in Colorado and beyond.

Favorite CO restaurant: I love Black Cat. Their menu is driven by their 130-acre farm just outside of Boulder, so the menu changes daily to truly reflect what’s seasonal and fresh. It’s not unusual to see Owner/Chef Eric Skokan at the Boulder Farmers’ Market with his Black Cat farm stand in the morning, then see him later that night in the kitchen at Black Cat, cooking and greeting customers in person.

bryce-600x600Blogger: Bryce Crawford

Homebase: Colorado Springs

History: I was previously a reporter and restaurant critic for the weekly newspaper. After I quit and realized how much there still was to cover in the area, I started my site on September 1, 2015.

Specialty: We’re connected and plugged-in. We’re judging the events you attend and hanging with the people you want to know more about.

Favorite CO restaurant: My favorite restaurant is probably King’s Chef Diner. It’s a great greasy spoon with kicking green chile.

11 food blogs to followBlogger: Sara Lancaster

Homebase: Denver (Denver Tech Center area)

History: I started in 2010 as a portfolio piece for my marketing agency (The Condiment Marketing Co.) and because I really do have a love for sauces and dips and felt food blogging would be a fun, creative outlet.

Specialty: Sauces and dips aren’t unique really, but to blog about only those two things is unusual as far as I know.

Favorite CO restaurant: I’ve got two little kids now, so I don’t make it out to try the restaurants I would like … at least not often. But my recent favorite is Los Chingones in the DTC. I think of their  Garden Guac often.

barbara-creative-culinaryBlogger: Barb Kiebel

Homebase: Denver

History: I learned HTML in 1995 when working in the Internet Division of a large cable company and decided to create my own recipe site to both categorize and easily share recipes with friends. I turned that site into an interactive blog in 2007 and became a full-time food and cocktail blogger in 2012.

Specialty: Though I feature more recipes for food than cocktails, I am most well known as a cocktail blogger since I started featuring cocktails five years ago in my weekly series called “FridayCocktails.”

Favorite CO restaurant: I love Ya Ya’s in the Denver Tech Center. While I have always enjoyed their food and ambience, they are my “Cheers” that that’s what makes them so special; everybody knows my name!

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Experience Sirvo for yourself

Sign up now to find hospitality jobs and hire top industry talent.