Robotized restaurant uses fancy tech to make fancy burgers
It was just last month that we heard about Spyce, a new Boston restaurant that uses a robotic kitchen to prepare low-cost stir-fry bowls. Well, now the high-tech Creator restaurant is about to open in San Francisco, which will be offering $6 robot-made gourmet hamburgers.
The actual patties themselves are made from pasture-fed marinaded brisket and chuck that's fed into the Creator robot whole, and then ground, spiced and grilled to order. Adding the spice just prior to grilling reportedly keeps the meat from becoming "gummy," which can happen when it's left to sit pre-spiced.
Additionally, when the brisket and chuck are being ground, they're cut vertically in orientation to the grain of the meat. This technique is said to result in a much more tender patty, plus one that's quite loosely packed – that looseness allows more air to pass through the beef as it's cooking, leading to an increased Maillard reaction (a chemical reaction that gives browned food its distinctive flavor).
Toppings such as onions, tomatoes and pickles also go into the robot whole, and are then sliced to order. The robot additionally slices and butters the brioche buns only as each burger is being made, plus it applies a variety of gourmet sauces and seasonings.
According to the folks at Momentum Machines, who are the creators of Creator, there are several advantages to going with a robotized kitchen. First and foremost, by automating the burger-making process, more money can be put into obtaining premium ingredients without having to jack up the price of the burgers.
Secondly, the robot is able to able to perform certain tasks – such as slicing the meat vertical to the grain – which would be difficult and time-consuming to do by hand. Additionally, the robot takes up significantly less space than a human-staffed kitchen, plus it's relatively energy-efficient, as it only powers up its induction griddle when a burger is being made.
There will be two of the robots in the first restaurant, each one capable of making one burger in less than five minutes, and approximately 120 burgers an hour. That restaurant is located at 680 Folsom Street, and will be open for lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays starting this Wednesday (June 27th). Full-time operations will commence at a future date.
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Now, if we assume you have 8 hours worth of sales per day, you're looking at $2,304 profit per day, or $69,120 per month.
The inventors have stated elsewhere that the machines will cost less that 1 million dollars.
So, let's assume a single machine costs $750,000, for a total price tag of $1.5 for two.
It would take roughly 21 months of profits to pay off both machines and start making a true net profit on those margins.
A little under two years to break even.
Now, I'm not a food industry guy. I don't know if those stats compare favorably with traditional models.
But labor costs in the food industry range from 25-40% of gross income. Eliminating that could significantly sweeten the viability of the deal.