Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JAN 2019

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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44 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JANUARY 2019 from virtual restaurant brands such as Butcher Block, Milk Money and Leafage simultaneously, through the same app, chef and kitchen. DoorDash has also gotten into the virtual restaurant game with DoorDash Kitchens, a 2,000-square-foot commis- sary in San Jose. This has enabled restaurateurs, for example, Benjamin Seabury to offer upscale pizza through his deliv- ery-only concept, The Star, without putting a damper on food costs, space and operations at his other restaurants. Companies like DoorDash won't deliver from three different restaurants to your home or office at once. "This just builds off of the idea of 'frictionless' service, that people want food and delivery in these circumstances in an easy-as- possible method without a lot of barriers, not unlike what Uber did for transportation and Airbnb for hotel booking," Schumaker says. There's a similar solution now for office workers looking for one delivery of multiple foods. EAT Club, which operates in the San Francisco/Bay area and Los Angeles, partners with different caterers and restaurants to offer delivery through one venue. From a restaurant/chef perspective, ghost kitchens offer a far lower cost of entry, similar to food trucks and food halls. "Why pay crazy real estate prices when you can work out of a cheaper industrial kitchen for less rent and less overhead and share the infrastructure and simultaneous delivery?" Schumaker says. These emerging restaurant brands differ greatly from the design-forward, chef-driven independents focused on brick- and-mortar spaces and experiences, Schumaker says. At the same time, delivery-only concepts also stem from chef-driven restaurants looking to get into delivery by going through a commissary or ghost kitchen hub rather than pump every- thing out of one smaller on-site kitchen space. A true restaurant of the future, therefore, might be a beautiful brick-and-mortar location or a handful of those with secondary commissary kitchens for delivery-only foods and concepts. Or, depending on real estate, maybe it's one brick- and-mortar space with an upfront a la carte kitchen for dine-in and a back-of-the-house production kitchen for delivery. The other part of all this, Schumaker notes, is the appar- ent delivery battle, with Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash and other third-party delivery services struggling to get exclusive contracts with restaurants. "We're probably a decade away from that battle being won," says Schumaker, who adds that he wouldn't be surprised if in the future a family might be able to order food from a restaurant or two as well as grocery food items, all from the same service. He speculates it could originate at a warehouse where half of the space houses delivery-only restaurants or ghost kitchens and the other half houses consumer packaged goods. Taking the idea even further, maybe there's a warehouse like this per community to dial up efficiencies in the logistics. What if, Schumaker continues, all this gets delivered via autonomous vehicles, drones or something along those lines, where customers simply scan their faces, retinas or thumb- prints to unlock their "lockers" and retrieve their products, and then pay with a stored credit card or other mobile pay, or even bitcoins or other cryptocurrency. Maybe the autonomous vehicle or drone even has the capacity for deep learning to manage and analyze its own customer data, preferences and even currency, like a digi- tal restaurant franchise, of sorts, Schumaker suggests. He credits industry peer Mark Freeman, the brainchild behind Microsoft's visionary foodservice program (and FE&S' 2017 Hall of Fame award winner), and his team for some of these forward-thinking ideas, and for being one of the first in the industry to test out drone delivery years ago. "What if the vehicle had its own business, where it would know to pay a percentage back to the company after it reached X number of dollars or to drive to a repair shop after X number of miles?" Schumaker adds. "Oh, and since it's an autonomous vehicle without a person on board, why can't it deliver craft cocktails to your doorstep to go along with your ghost restaurant food?" The ideas are endless. FE&S THE FUTURE THE RESTAURANT OF Restaurant designers, specifiers and operators who think at least a few steps ahead of their time and stay open to new ideas and business models have a far greater chance of future success.

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