What’s up, folks? Today we’re diving into the world of restaurant technology. Now, a lot of the talk out there revolves around fancy stuff like voice AI and automation. And yeah, that stuff is cool, no doubt. But let’s be real here, restaurant operators care more about what actually works and what they really need, instead of just following the latest trends.
I was checking out this FSTEC conference in Dallas, organized by Technomic, and there was a major theme that kept popping up: finding the right balance between up-to-date technology and maintaining that good old-fashioned hospitality. It’s like walking a tightrope, you know?
During one of the sessions, this dude Sean Thompson, the VP of information technology for Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, dropped some truth bombs. He talked about how they’re cautious with technology because it can mess with their brand identity. Sure, sometimes you get a mutation that gives you laser eyes or whatever, but most mutations are just straight-up cancer. So, they’re careful about what they do.
Now, they did embrace technology to help with hiring, staffing, and even back of house production. But here’s the thing – they never lose sight of their core values. The tech has to enhance what they already stand for. They’re not just chasing after shiny objects.
And guess what? Another speaker at the same session, MJ Worsham, director of restaurant technology for Five Guys, shared a similar mindset. He believes any new tech innovation has to prove its worth to the operators. They’re not gonna invest in something just for the sake of it. They’re asking the tough questions, exploring things like machine learning-backed forecasting. They wanna know if it’s gonna benefit their business in the long run.
Now, let’s talk about AI, baby. That’s the buzzword right now. Everyone’s wondering how much they should invest in AI, the costs involved, and what’s the difference between regular AI and generative AI like ChatGPT. There’s a lot of confusion, my friends.
At this conference, opinions were all over the place when it came to AI. But most folks agreed that it’s gonna have some role in the future of the restaurant industry, though no one knows exactly what that role will be. Some people, like Gregg Majewski, founder of Craveworthy Brands, seemed a bit apprehensive. He straight up called AI the devil of the industry. According to him, having AI serve your customers ain’t gonna make a difference in terms of feedback or building relationships. He believes in good old-fashioned human interaction. That’s hospitality right there.
But hold up, not everyone is on the same page. Mark Lohmann, the CEO of Birdcall, a chicken chain based in Denver, sees AI as part of the solution to their labor issues. They wanna utilize AI to redeploy their employees, not replace them. They still want that personal experience for their guests. They want their restaurant leaders to get out there, talk to the customers, and build those relationships. Because at the end of the day, hospitality is the foundation of their business.
So, there you have it, folks. The restaurant industry is cautiously embracing technology. They’re being smart about it, making sure it aligns with their values and enhances the customer experience. And hey, AI is a hot topic right now, but opinions vary. Some love it, some hate it. But one thing’s for sure, hospitality will always be at the core of this industry.