Automated Restaurants: From the POS Kiosk to the Conveyor Belt

Automated Restaurants and Self Service Kiosks Changing the Way We Dine

All over the world, self-service technology is working to change the game of the restaurant business.

Automated restaurants of all types are popping up for many reasons, including decreased wait times and social interaction. Some restaurants are automating the ordering process so cashiers and waiters have more time to make a connection with the customers. Others are working towards helping the introverts who otherwise wouldn’t go out to dinner and giving them a place to eat out in peace. For whatever reason you’re interested in automating your restaurant (or just looking to read about restaurant automation), here’s some examples of other restaurants and how they chose to implement a self-service environment in their restaurants.

Eatsa, multiple locations in the U.S.A

automated restaurants

Fully automated restaurant that serves 6 different styles of quinoa bowls for $6.95 using a kiosk ordering system.

The customer:

  • orders the food
  • the order goes to the kitchen staff right behind the wall
  • they make the food fresh
  • and then the order comes through the window that the customer has been assigned.

There are also employees for greeting and assistance, so it’s not completely empty in case help is needed.

Kaiten-zushi “rotating sushi”, locations in Japan

automated sushi

A little different than Eatsa, this automated sushi restaurant is an automated sit-down restaurant with a conveyor belt that brings the food the the customer. The customer:

  • seats themselves
  • orders their food into a kiosk
  • the order goes to the kitchen
  • and the order gets sent to the table on a conveyer belt.

After the customer is done with their food, they can put their plate down a slot in the table that leads to a chute connected to the dish washing station. In this restaurant, even the food preparation and dish washing is automated and has very little staff in the back of the house.

Ichiran Ramen, Japanese chain, now in Brooklyn, NY

New York Ramen Vending Machine Kiosk

This ramen chain restaurant serves tonkotsu ramen at “flavor concentration booths” that promote limited social interaction. The customer:

  • sits in their own private booth
  • fills out the order sheet
  • presses a button to call their server

The server comes to the booth and all you can see is their hands. They:

  • greet you
  • bring you your food
  • and close the bamboo curtain

This take is a little different because it blocks you less from the server, and focuses on separating you more from other customers.

Chili’s Restaurants, multiple locations in the U.S.A

Chili's Countertop Table Kiosk

Chili’s and many other chain restaurants (off the top of my head Uno’s, Applebees, Olive Garden) have countertop POS kiosks that is a more passive take on automation. These restaurants still have full service waiters and staff, and the kiosk is really only meant for a few functions. The customer can:

  • call the waiter for service
  • order drinks, appetizers, and desserts (but need to order their meals and alcoholic beverages from the waiter)

Another function on these kiosks is the bill paying function where they can pay for the meal themselves without the waiter running back and forth with receipts. This function is really useful for the waiters because it has a “tipping screen” that shows the customer what percent they want to tip and how much money this is. The kiosk makes it really clear to the customer what the 20% tip is, making it less likely that a waiter will get shorted by a customer.
There are plenty of ways to deploy self-service technology in restaurants. Whether you want to put a small kiosk on the end of the table as an assistant, or go all out and fully automate like the conveyor belt system at Kaiten-zushi. That’s the reason why we think self-service technology is great. There’s a project for everyone regardless of how much influence the owner wants technology to have on the service. Technology like this in restaurants can help to improve tipping, customer satisfaction, time efficiency, and paper usage. To learn more about self-service and how you can improve your restaurant, get in touch! We’d be happy to work with you to plan out your project with self-service tech!

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