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Big food automation is making its way to Main Street's menu

Big food automation is making its way to Main Street's menu

Automation and robotics are typically associated with multi-million budgets at multi-billion dollar companies. But as the cost of technology has come down, it's become more affordable to smaller companies — even small businesses.

Outside of Atlanta in Jonesboro, Georgia, THAT Burger Spot!, a burger and wings joint with four locations, got tired of being slowed down by phone orders.

Big food automation is making its way to Main Street's menu

There's beef burgers, turkey, Impossible, black bean, fish, chicken and more. Then there's the matter of how many patties, sauces and other customizations. Given all the choices, a single phone order took an average of seven to eight minutes. And that's only if there was staff on hand to take those orders.

"Our menu is a little complex, there's a lot of options," said Cedric Pool, president of THAT Burger Spot Franchising, Inc.

"Staffing . . .it was a problem and continues to be a problem," Pool said. "We figured we will be able to automate the process of order taking, we wouldn't have to pay somebody to do it."

After a search, they found a solution in Grubbrr, which sells free-standing kiosks that can take in-store orders and integrate those with online orders and a point-of-sale system. Pool started with two kiosks in just one location, costing $14,400, which is about how much the company would pay someone over the course of a year to take orders by phone.

After easing customers into using the kiosk and online ordering, the restaurant's average ticket order increased from around $19 to over $21. Average sales per labor hour moved up from the high $50 range to $85, Pool said.

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