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Paul Zimmerman

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Milosh Kojadinovich ©

Are Robot-Operated “Smart Restaurants” the Wave of the Future?

In the face of increasing minimum wage laws and shrinking numbers of qualified cooks in the work force, many restaurants are feeling the heat. One Bay area start-up, Momentum Machines (Momentum), is touting a solution that may alleviate these business pressures.  Momentum is banking on the idea that by having machines replace line cooks in the kitchen, a restaurant can obviate the need for a work force entirely.

Momentum is a technology company comprised of foodies and engineers, and has submitted an application to open a new restaurant in the South of Market portion of San Francisco. Thus far, all signs point to the eatery becoming a “smart restaurant”—one that is completely run by robotics. The company plans to introduce to the world a chain of robotic burger joints, where the fully automated operation will have machines doing all of the cooking. According to Momentum’s marketing collateral, the automated machinery has the capacity to prepare as many as 360 burgers per hour, or one per second, with absolutely no need for line cooks.  The company’s website has suggested that its varied technology can also produce salads, sandwiches and several other gourmet type foods.

Although it is probably unrealistic to expect a machine to replace the chef in your favorite local hang-out, Momentum’s business model is certainly an intriguing experiment that will be worth watching in 2016.