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Anyone who’s followed the job market in the wake of COVID re-openings knows that the restaurant industry is facing a severe labor shortage. The industry traditionally employs shifting, transitory workforces, but it’s never been like this. Staff turnover in restaurants, particularly fast-food spots, has skyrocketed, with a monthly turnover rate of 144 percent. U.S. Labor Department data confirms restaurant workers are quitting their jobs at the highest rate in two decades, with 70 percent more job openings now than there were in 2019.
To say the current staffing crisis has put fast-food restaurants — otherwise known in the industry as Quick Service Restaurants — behind the eight ball is an understatement. National fast-food chain Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers even took the amazing step of reassigning corporate employees to serve the front line as fry cooks and cashiers in over 500 of their locations nationwide.
Racked with labor shortages, restaurant owners and franchisees are looking for new options to keep doors open and stores profitable. And if you can’t get humans to staff your restaurants, how about robots instead?
Miso believes its robots are the answer to fast-food staffing shortages
was founded five years ago by young tech investor and builder Buck Jordan, who took up the challenge of helping struggling restaurant owners by creating a robotic arm that could flip burgers just as well as a human.
His pursuit paid off. Not only did he create that burger-flipping robot, but Miso Robotics went on to craft an entire line of robotic equipment that . The company now looks to expand and bring its products to new markets through a Series D funding round, offering investment opportunities for visionaries who see a future in automated restaurants.
And there’s plenty of good reason for investor optimism. That burger-flipping robot, now known as , is Miso Robotics’ flagship item. After a trial stint at an Indiana White Castle, the OG fast-food chain decided to bring the arm, which is capable of cooking up to 19 different menu items, to at least 10 more locations this year.
The Flippy Fryer has already cooked more than 175,000 pounds of french fries and other treats, while the Flippy Grill has successfully , en route to inspiring encouraging media reports from outlets as varied as The Wall Street Journal.
The Miso team is currently putting the finishing touches on the latest Flippy redesign, the Flippy 2, which takes over the work for an entire fry station and performs more than twice as many food preparation tasks compared to the previous version including basket filling, emptying and returning. Miso recently launched an innovation partnership with Inspire Brands, including Buffalo Wild Wings, to test a new product line, Flippy Wings. Flippy Wings is the only robotic chicken wing frying solution designed for high-volume restaurants and will translate to higher volume with less waste.
In addition to manning the grill and fryer, Miso has a restaurant’s drink station covered as well. The company’s Automatic Beverage Dispenser is already being tested in two QSR restaurants, filling cups with a drink, sealing it, labeling it, then grouping drink orders together so a human co-worker can pack up the order for a customer.
There’s also CookRight, an AI-powered robotic kitchen assistant designed to boost a restaurant kitchen’s overall efficiency by using vision technology and a digital interface to track food cooking times and quality automatically.
Ready to invest in the robot kitchen of the future?
With a company valuation of $350 million, Miso is looking to expand pilot programs with 10 of the top 25 QSR restaurant brands and widen their footprint in the industry.
With nearly 12,000 shareholders so far including heavyweights like the Los Angeles Dodgers, the company has raised more than $30 million via crowdfunding, including $7 million in this latest Series D investing round. Buyers can and buy into Miso Robotics with an investment as low as $1,000.
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