20 years ago, very few people would have envisioned that restaurants would soon have menus that ran on digital screens as opposed to traditional paper. Or that your human server and the cook would be replaced by a line following machines with “hands”. And yet, artificial intelligence is predicted to be the savior of the 2020’s disaster recession. 

Globally, over 73% of restaurants agreed that a shift to artificial intelligence-driven operations would be a benefit to their operations. A report from Analytics insight suggests that 53% of restaurateurs that they surveyed currently face high operating costs in their business. A commercial kitchen design and planning that’s ahead of the times can help outset some of these thanks to new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.  

AI For Customers

AI in the commercial kitchen space has always been about making the lives of customers easier and thereby increasing footfalls. Food delivery apps already made a huge breakthrough during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020; while they might not seem like artificially intelligent apps these services use customer data to make smart dining decisions for them such as new recommendations, highly rated restaurants nearby, and also tracks your order history. Even on the delivery side, new mapping technology and routing technology ensure that your delivery agents need not run around in circles trying to get food to your customers and also schedule deliveries within one area for convenience. 

The same extends into the latter half of 2020 with lockdowns ending and the advent of contactless dining. QR codes have replaced paper menus and in some places, there is no need for wait staff at all; line following robots can be trained to serve food from the kitchen to the waiting tables. Voice ordering has also become a fast trending norm for those that have smart speakers at home. An added convenience that makes things that much quicker.  

Several fast-food chains decided to use self-order in the past several years; while there are some kinks in the system, it certainly works. Customers do not have to stand in line to place an order and the customization options are also far easier to execute than telling your cashier everything. 

AI For The Kitchen

The future of AI in the kitchen is slowly but surely picking up. While we may be a long way away from having robot chefs replace the cook staff, robot assistants and waiters are certainly coming up quickly. Some commercial kitchen planners have experimented with implementing robots in the kitchen with success. Certain restaurants in India have replaced their waiters with line followers that take your order and also carry around food without having to cause delays. A fast-food chain in Pasadena, USA even replaced their hamburger cook with a robot known as Flippy, which could serve up to 300 burgers a day without breaks thereby increasing production and decreasing wait times. Fast food, indeed. 

It’s not just hardware that’s evolved. IBM’s Watson was hailed as revolutionary for the kitchen. It is based entirely on artificial intelligence and gives chefs a new host of culinary combinations to explore. Some of Watson’s own recipes were in fact published in a cookbook. Samsung’s smart refrigerators in recent times also come with options for separate cooling bays and turning on at specific times to ensure no wastage of electricity and optimum chilling. 

AI for the management: 

Finally, using artificially intelligent services to help the front desk with scheduling reservations and aiding at POS kiosks also greatly aids your kitchen. You no longer have to manually input reservations and orders; the customer does half the work and AI will do the rest for you. The same goes for replenishing inventory and SKUs online. 

But is it all truly worth it?

The million-dollar question is, how can one leverage AI smoothly in their operations? Like humans, AI does have kinks every now and then. And human error is easier to fix than AI. There are also establishments that do not want to lose out on the human aspect of dining. To some people, the traditional wait staff is always more amicable compared to a QR code menu. 

The answer boils down to making the right calls, something a commercial kitchen planner can aptly help you with. One need not invest in every facet of AI to upgrade their kitchen. To some, the hard work and whimsical creations of a chef will mean a lot more than the efficiency and precision of a robot cook. A consultation with the commercial kitchen planners at HPG consulting will ensure you don’t overspend and maintain a smooth running commercial kitchen while also not losing out on the charm of yesteryear.