Today in restaurant and grocery tech news, an automat restaurant expands across the United States, while a grocery chain becomes the first to deploy artificially intelligent robots to all locations. Plus, quick-service restaurant (QSR) franchisees chafe against the constraints of today’s labor market.
Automats are back. After opening its first location in New York City’s East Village in the spring and signing deals to expand along the East Coast, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, an automat-style dumpling-focused QSR, is heading south. The chain announced this week that it has signed its first deal to expand to Texas, with at least five locations coming to the Dallas area. Ultimately, the restaurant plans to open 500 locations within five years.
Last-mile provider Point Pickup Technologies has acquired white-label eCommerce platform GrocerKey, a move the company says will let retailers “take back control from Instacart.” Point Pickup announced the move in a news release on Thursday (Aug. 26), saying it had created the industry’s “first end-to-end, own-branded last-mile fulfillment and delivery service.”
Schnucks Market becomes the first grocer in the world to roll out artificial intelligence (AI) robots chainwide, the Fresh Market encourages shoppers to adopt its curbside offerings, and Dollar General boosts its margins with refrigerated and frozen foods.
For QSRs, the current challenging labor market is not an obstacle for only corporate headquarters, but also for franchisees. Without full access to corporations ’ deep pockets, these franchisees — typically either smaller companies or local business owners — are often forced to find ways to make the system work on their own.