How Has Machine Learning Altered the Restaurant Industry?

It’s an exciting time in the restaurant industry as more advanced technologies continue to improve efficiency and customer experience. At the forefront of this technology is the addition of machine learning, an application of artificial intelligence that enables many utilizations of robotics, chatbots and other tools. Machine learning happens when a computer system can learn and carry out specific tasks based on experiential learning. The integration of machine learning into restaurants is in its infancy, and current applications are pushing the boundaries of the status quo and are altering the dining industry.

  • Robots—As the minimum wage continues to increase, some restaurant chains are exploring adding robots to supplement their workforce. Take Flippy for example. The autonomous robotic kitchen assistant can grab and flip burger patties, pick up delicate buns, and apply ingredients to assemble a hamburger. The CaliBurger chain of restaurants plans to deploy Flippy to 50 of its restaurants by the end of the year.

  • Kiosks—Machine learning has expanded to self-ordering restaurant kiosks. At McDonald’s, these machines can recommend items for customers based on past menu selections, and even suggest seasonal or weather-dependent choices. The kiosk also gives customers more control over their product by letting them select the amount of salt in fries, sauce in burgers, and sugar in cold drinks. The machine learning can go even further by using facial recognition software to help remember your order preference, providing the quickest and most efficient visit for the repeat customer.

  • Chatbots—This technology uses artificial intelligence programs to mimic interactive human conversation. For restaurants, chatbots have carried out a variety of tasks including making reservations, processing payments, and answering customer questions. The advantage of chatbots is they can do these tasks without pausing. Machine learning and natural language generation allows these bots to continue the conversation with the customer. They can ask pertinent questions and even make jokes with the client. And chatbots have become even easier to use. Domino’s Pizza allows customers to order through chatbots via Facebook Messenger, as opposed to ordering by phone or online.  

  • Nutritional Analysis—Conscientious restaurant goers now have new tools at their disposal to track their food’s nutritional content. Edamam is one such service that uses natural language processing to examine ingredient lists to provide nutritional analysis. For each food, Edamam monitors data for calories, fats, carbohydrates, protein, cholesterol, and sodium. It can also help identify allergens and provide customers with dietary restrictions, an additional tool to screen their selections.

  • Restaurant Marketing—Beyond the dining experience, machine learning has also advanced the world of restaurant marketing. Although Facebook and Google Ads have made digital advertising more mainstream, restaurant marketers can spend a lot of time processing results and optimizing their media. It’s a process that must occur daily, eating up a lot of time and money that could go to restaurant operations. This is where machine learning comes into play. Some restaurants are utilizing machine learning for a 24/7 algorithmic-based optimization of their marketing needs. It can help with advertising, loyalty programs, and customer satisfaction. As a result, the owner can focus on the job of running a restaurant.

Technology development seems to move at a faster and faster pace. Machine learning is a powerful technology that is driving change across industries, and the restaurant industry is no exception. Restaurant owners and managers may benefit from the long-term cost savings and efficiencies this technology provides. More importantly, the customer experience may be better for it.  

Restaurant Magic Software has been providing advanced software solutions to the restaurant and hospitality industry for over 20 years. The robust Data Central Management Suite, the flagship product, is a powerful and flexible application that takes advantage of the latest technology trends to offer premier processing and analytics. With advanced forecasting, predictive scheduling and mobile technologies, Data Central has something for every problem. To learn more about Restaurant Magic Software and its products, call us at 1(800) 933-4711 or visit the website at RestaurantMagic.com.