5 min read

Digital Restaurant Industry Trends Everyone Is Talking About

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
April 23, 2023
May 29, 2024

Technology changes at a meteoric speed and the restaurant industry is observing very carefully. And while some venues are bound by the old ways, there are many that are one step ahead. Digital signage is among the top solutions that culinary institutions choose to stand out. And in 2023 it’s yet again at the forefront of the digital restaurant industry trends. Screens are not going anywhere, they are here to stay and make restaurants more profitable and attractive. 

Let’s see the top digital restaurant industry trends everyone is talking about.

AR integration

At a first glance, you may think what exactly can augmented reality do for a restaurant when the whole point of going to the restaurant is eating the very real food. But there are hundreds of thousands of restaurants out there and standing out is always difficult. 

One of the hottest restaurant industry trends is implementing AR into the experience. 

Here’s a good example. Fairmont Chicago’s Le Petit Chef is an AR-powered dinner with the use of 3D projections to create a new kind of food savoring. The carrots are dancing, everything is moving, and the whole thing is unlike you’ve ever experienced before. 

When it comes to implementing AR in your restaurant, there can be various approaches. As it is “augmented” reality, you can be super creative and craft whatever digital things you want. The main goal would be to keep it in check with your marketing goals.

Screens can facilitate AR deployment. You can use digital signage as an “entrance point” to the augmented reality feature. For example, if you already operate digital menu boards, use them to provide QR links to the AR experience you’ve designed. The same goes for any screen that is found on the premises of your restaurant. In this case, the smartphone will be a device where the experience is accessed. 

On the other hand, the display can serve as an AR experience itself. It can use cameras to show the restaurant with additional AR elements within the screen. For example, if you have a mascot it can appear on display next to the visitors and they can take selfies with it.

AI changes everything

It’s not a sci-fi version of the future anymore. AI is officially here and it’s bringing change. The restaurants are not an exception. And don’t be fooled by the viral conversations with ChatGPT, a whole revolution in food preparation and ordering is happening as we write these lines. 

Taco Bell and KFC use AI technology to manage their weekly supply orders and reduce food waste.

North Carolina-based startup Swipeby has developed an AI-powered app that can help restaurants generate better-looking pictures of the food on their menus.

In a piece of even more utopian news, the Silicon Valley startup CloudChef has developed an AI program that allows digitizing the cooking process entirely. Now, this one is a little bit more profound with the potential to transform restaurant kitchens as we know them.

The end goal of CloudChef is to turn a kitchen into a specialist-operated digitized space where the machine serves as a Chef measuring and scaling, choosing the ingredients, and creating the ideal meals. Thus, the ideal picture that the company paints is the kitchen with one skilled manager that operates the computers. Something like a factory of food. 

In terms of the workforce, it means that AI is taking not one but all the jobs thus drastically cutting the restaurant costs. Is it a good or bad thing? Time will tell.

The New Ordering Order

Drive-thrus are not what they used to be anymore. Today they are getting increasingly robotized. Bringing AI to the ordering process is among the new big digital restaurant industry trends. And screens are facilitating the whole operation here serving as a bridge between the human and the machine. 

In other words, customer service becomes fully automated. And it’s not some kind of a fantasy scenario. Many world-known chains are already actively using the technology for ordering. The transformation has been initiated and it’s almost unstoppable now. 

Fast-casual chain Wingstop is using ConverseNow voice-AI-powered virtual assistants for processing phone orders. Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza follows suit implementing the technology at almost 60 venues across the US. According to the latter, virtual assistants are already successfully handling 100% of phone calls. These kinds of stats make you think. 

But it’s the biggest players that really push the AI craze forward. 

McDonald’s is using AI to take orders at its drive-thrus.

A tortilla chip-making robot by Miso Robotics (who thought that humanity will go to this) is actively used in Chipotle. Also, the company has a Chipotlane, a mobile-only drive-thru that’s been a huge success.

Checker’s & Rally did a huge rollout of AI-powered drive-thru lanes.

The future is already here and it’s exciting.

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