The restaurant and food industry is undergoing a transformative shift, thanks to the integration of Artificial Intelligence. From order processing to inventory management and even staffing decisions, AI is proving its worth. Some establishments are even running pilot programs aimed at replacing human staff with robots. Furthermore, AI is now venturing into the creative realm of menu design and flavor exploration.
Shake Shack and Coca-Cola are among the pioneers using AI to craft menu options and flavors. National and local restaurants are also experimenting with AI-inspired recipes. Clay Dover, CEO of Velvet Taco, a popular taco chain, enthuses about the benefits of AI in the culinary world. Thanks to an AI-powered recommendation, he recounts how the “Chat GPTaco” was introduced to their menu. The AI proposed ingredients that would resonate with their customer base, and after some fine-tuning, the Chat GPTaco became a smash hit, becoming their best-selling taco in 2023.
AI is not limited to the big players; local restaurants are harnessing its potential too. Greg Tierney, owner of Motor City Pizza in Texas, highlights how AI enhanced their menu. A customer’s idea for a new pizza was brought to life through AI. The result? “Winston’s Elote,” a delectable blend of roasted corn, red peppers, onions, jalapenos, and chicken, which has now become a permanent menu item, much to the delight of their customers.
Dover underscores the efficiency AI brings to the culinary world. It’s an unbiased tool that assists chefs in crafting dishes that cater to customer preferences. He believes AI doesn’t replace chefs but rather enhances their capabilities. AI helps chefs break free from their personal biases and speeds up the creative process.
Both Velvet Taco and Motor City Pizza plan to explore AI further. They aim to refine parameters for AI-generated dishes and create more offerings based on customer preferences. For example, vegetarian versions or region-specific items. Additionally, AI will play a role in improving operational processes, such as managing dough and humidity in the dough rising process.
Since the significant disruptions in the restaurant industry in 2020, AI has been identified as a driver of automation to streamline restaurant operations. A report by LightspeedHQ found that 50% of surveyed restaurant owners and operators planned to implement automation technology within the next few years.
AI provides valuable, unbiased data that can be used to make informed decisions. It can assist in choosing new locations, refining site selections, and creating effective training manuals. The emotion and subjectivity are removed from the decision-making process, providing solid validation for business choices.
AI is seen as a tool to help restaurants improve operations, troubleshoot issues, and search for efficiencies. Restaurant owners are eager to explore the full potential of AI in their industry.