Robot Food Service Invasion

If a professional sports team like the Los Angeles Dodgers can’t make money selling $15 cheese burgers to a captive audience with minimum wage employees then traditional businesses where people have not spent big money on a ball game, or amusement park admission will be following in no time.

We have been warning about this ability to automate tasks like make burgers, take food orders for a while.

The reason restaurants are going to go this way is that robots:

  • Always show up to the job.
  • Always on time without excuses.
  • Don’t need to take a vacation or slow in productivity leading up to one.
  • Don’t have to take sick days.
  • Don’t get called to jury duty.
  • Always at work, no issues commuting.
  • No headache of dealing with personal human matters like family issues and obligations.
  • Do not require shift meal that just eats into the bottom line.
  • Don’t give friends or family free food.
  • Can’t have a sexual harassment claim or issue with a customer or other employee.
  • Do not require corporate clothing.

Robot arm’s only cost about $30,000 – or your annual part time hourly pay, plus state, and federal tax with holdings, unemployment insurance, and shift meal perks (or stolen food).

Cost is a business expense that is written off, and depreciates; which creates a tax benefit.

Limited training – no robot is just plugged in to the power source and knows what to do. In May of 2018 David Burke the CEO of Diversified Restaurant Holdings regarding Q1 2018 Results Diversified Restaurant Holdings’ one of the largest Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise owners explained that the company was exhibiting around 90-100% turnover! Because of the tight labor market. Businesses are looking for ways to reduce this turnover while keeping wages flat. Robots are key for making this happen.

Maintenance – the robot will require maintenance, and periodic retraining. But these maintenance and training events will be done likely through the equipment vendor as a paid service, so no pesky 1099 Tax form, or W-2 Tax form, and payroll tax, Social Security tax.

Lastly businesses do not have to spend hours actually recruiting, vetting, hiring and training employees for them to quit after a week or two, and repeat the recruiting and retraining process all over again.

If you think you can use your fine human interaction skills, and great personality to stay on as a employee, eventually fast food Giants will be offering no cash payments, and no human interaction.


Customers spend more money. Customer satisfaction increases. More food and drink sales, less employees = more profit.

Are you scared yet?

Lets look closer at the traditional corners of food service that have been decimated by the advance of the fight for $15, or living wage efforts.

Cashiers at any restaurant

Replaced first with Kiosks, and now more increasingly Apps. Many of the top fast food establishment Apps are further incentivizing patrans of the establishments with free food, free sides, or pretty substantial discounts simply for placing orders on the respective App. By doing this the big chains are retraining customers to go to the App first to see what is new, get cheaper food and skip the line altogether.

Bartender Robots

Robot bartenders have been around a while and have anecdotally increased sales each time they are installed, and they also create a “show” while you wait for your drink. These are already in use in Las Vegas.

Mixo Infinity Bartender Machine, less show but automates the need for a bartender.

Burger Robots

Burger restaurant line cooks and full assemblers with the Creator. The inventor has focused on trying to hire employees to create a service atmosphere with relative high hourly wages, and 5% time, which means you can read a book or maybe study to program robots on work time.

Flippy Burger bot – more of a basic “robot arm” and less focused on full automation of the burger. It is being used today. Reports are that excitement of the robot have spiked sales where it has been deployed. It was retooled or reprogrammed to make 300 burgers an hour, 7 days a week. How many burgers can you make in a day? If you answer any number less than 2,400 burgers, then your job is at risk of Flippy replacing you.

For example the economics of a Flippy bot at 300 burgers an hour are say with a $9 burger and full 24 hours a day turning in a massive $64,800 a day in revenue. With no employee expense on the burger flipping labor. If the owner of the Flippy is really good with 24 hour service and marketing on food delivery Apps with areas that have 3 shifts of workers it could turn over $23,652,000 in revenue on its own. Not too shabby.

No wonder why Yum Brands CEO mentioned that by 2025 robots can replace workers.

Pizza making robots

Zume claims that they are expanding jobs by having robots make the pizza, cook it halfway, and load them half-baked into delivery trucks to be served by humans.

Picnic Pizza making robot which has been burning up the press racket.

Coming soon

Without a doubt by the end of the 2000’s we’ll see food delivery entirely automated so even your “gig” job with Doordash, UberEats, Postmates, Grubhub, among others will be replaced by an a fully autonomous vehicle and robot that will drop the food at your door, or a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or Drone that will drop your food right do your door step with an app alert that your meal is ready to “pick up”.

What now

If you happen to work at a big restaurant chain that offers say college tuition programs for free, well take them up on it. Maybe become the robot programmer. It is clearly an in-demand job that will not be going away for the foreseeable future. Find jobs that are harder to automate, but also offer high “value”. In other words you need to be able to work that exceeds the value of an action that a robot can do.

Do you have a good personality, make eye contact, maybe even like interacting with people? Maybe try a sales career where selling something is always needed. It is harder to automate in many industries that require highly technical and detailed specifications. Build relationships with people, who respect you and who you also respect.

Break out of this rat wheel of a job, and get a career. Where your brain, and talents pay you more than a living wage.