Robots That Do WHAT?!

( – During the summer of 2022, an innovative restaurant named Mezli began offering Mediterranean cuisine in San Francisco’s Mission Bay at surprisingly affordable rates from a food truck park.

Customers could enjoy dishes like Za’atar chicken, shredded lamb or chickpea falafel for just $6.99.

Although it looks similar to other food establishments in the area, Mezli stood apart by operating entirely through automation thanks to a robot.

This unique business was the brainchild of three Stanford graduate students who thought of a restaurant that required no human intervention on-site.

A team prepared ingredients in a central kitchen every day and then transported them to Mezli, where the robot assembled and served the meals.

With expertise in software and artificial intelligence, Mezli co-founder Alex Kolchinski and his colleagues who specialize in robotics and engineering wanted to address the issue of rising labor costs that inflate food prices.

Mezli, who is described humorously as the child of a vending machine and a restaurant, showed how a fully automated bowl-style restaurant could be possible.

Although it is an innovative approach, Mezli closed down due to financial constraints.

This venture into restaurant automation highlights the broader industry trend of using technology to enhance efficiency and reduce labor costs, especially in areas like California where the minimum wage for fast-food jobs recently shot up to $20 per hour.

Automated systems like Mezli raise questions about whether traditional fast-food jobs are needed in the face of advancing technology.

Recent developments in the fast-casual sector, including Sweetgreen’s Infinite Kitchen and the launch of Kernel, a vegetarian meal chain employing robotics, further highlight the shift toward automation.

Additionally, Pasadena burger joint CaliExpress has embraced a fully automated ordering and cooking process by using robot arms and AI-powered kiosks.

As technology becomes increasingly key to the food service industry, the upcoming years are set to witness a significant expansion in restaurant robotics.

This transition is seen as a response to the rising costs of labor and the reliability and efficiency offered by automated systems, which signals a potential revolution in how we approach food service and employment in the sector.

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