All Pizzas To Be Cooked By Robots?


A former Silicon Valley executive with a love of pizza and robots is on a quest to make a better pie and deliver it faster than the big chains can. Alex Garden is making robots that make pizza and they are coming for Domino’s.

The future of pie delivery, argues Garden, is being pioneered by robots at his Zume Pizza, and Bloomberg got a look inside the new company. The process seems to involve a team of enormous and very expensive-looking robots preparing pies that then get baked by a giant bank of ovens en route to customers.

One of the robots (her name is Marta) expertly spreads sauce “perfectly but not too perfectly, so it looks just like an artisan product.” Another, named Bruno, then “gently, without disturbing it,” moves the pizza into an 850-degree oven to prebake. Traditional humans are still required for tasks like sprinkling cheese, driving the delivery truck, and walking sealed boxes to customers’ doors, but these seem like minor obstacles, really. After all, even Domino’s has robots that warm pies on the road and diligently hunt down customers using GPS.  Pizza seems the ripest for full automation within fast food, so it’s safe to assume the whole industry is steadily moving toward the all-robot business model.

Right now, Zume’s pies only appear to be available in Mountain View, but Garden warns his company is targeting massive chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut, which he says he’ll be able to dethrone by offering “the best-tasting pizza in the country delivered in 15 minutes for the same price as any of the other chains.”As Bloomberg points out, there’s “a lot of profit in robot-made pizza.” Just envision one of the major pizza franchises but with “virtually no” humans, Garden calmly instructs everyone. “It would be like Domino’s without the labor component. You can start to see how incredibly profitable that can be.”

Papa John’s Goes “All Natural” With Ingredients

works-ingredients.jpgPapa John’s, whose motto of “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” you likely know even if you’ve never touched a slice, is making moves to uphold that promise by removing a host of artificial ingredients from its pizzas. “We closed out 2015 announcing our commitment to serve chicken raised without antibiotics and are ringing in the New Year artificial-flavor and synthetic-color free,” said Sean Muldoon, Papa John’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development. This might lead one to wonder what made the ingredients “better” before the change, but to its credit Papa John’s is the first national pizza chain to make a move like this.

It’s unclear whether going all-natural will help Papa John’s recover from a season of poor sales and falling stocks, but it seems like management is banking on the consumer demand for transparency (or at least the appearance of transparency) in ingredients that once helped Chipotle rocket to the top. Hopefully they can do so on a national scale without the same food safety issues that plagued the Mexican chain.

To read more, click here.

Papa John’s joins in Cleanup

Many restaurant chains are under 900pressure to go all-natural in their ingredients after numerous changes in menu from high profile chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Panera Bread Co. And now Papa John’s International inc. is eliminating ingredients used in their pizza and dips. Ten of the fourteen are being eliminated by the end of this year and the remaining four by the end of 2016. But these costs are estimated at and added expense of $100 million each year. John Schnatter, founder and chief executive officer, has been making changes with their menu since 1996 with changes like removing fillers from the meat used for toppings and improving the pizza dough. They have removed mono-sodium glutamate from its ranch dressing and pulled trans fats form its garlic sauce. The company has also pulled cellulose, an anti-caking agent, from its mozzarella cheese. Papa John’s pizza is generally more expensive than its competitors like Pizza Hut and Domino’s but boasts their “quality ingredients for a better pizza.” While prices in pizza will increase in price corresponding with the expenses in producing pizzas with higher-priced natural ingredients, Schnatter believes that their customers have shown willingness to pay a dollar or two more for their pizzas. Papa John’s has recently started posting their ingredients online and pushing on menu transparency. With the shift in ingredients, Schnatter hopes it will put the chain in a position that’s hard for competitors to match.

To read more on the changes in Papa John’s, click here

Rossopomodoro Opens In Greenwich Village

The Neapolitan pizza chain Rossopomodoro, known as Eataly’s inner pizza place, has opened it’s first outpost outside of Eataly. The new Rossopomodoro opened last Thursday in the former Cole’s Greenwich Village space at 118 Greenwich Avenue. The space has multiple dining rooms with marble tabletops and hanging light fixtures as well as a fully-equipped bar and gilded pizza oven similar in shape to the gold pizza oven that once was at Donatella in Chelsea. Rossopomodoro also has some pantry items on display which are available for purchase.

The menu includes a great pizza selection with a variety of toppings such as squash, gorgonzola and guanciale, as well as a great selection of pasta courses such as ricotta ravioli, linguine with sea urchin and the classic tagliatelle alla bolognese. The cocktail menu is also in keeping with the Italian theme as they are serving many Italian liquors such as limoncello, Campari, Aperol and different Amari. To check out some pictures of the new space and to read more about the opening, click here

Pizza On The Rise In Fast-Casual

According to Telsey Advisory Group, pizza will be the next trend in fast-casual dining. Perhaps the reason this is not yet a craze in fast casual concepts is because the cooking time for pizza is typically longer than say a sandwich or a burrito. A research firm, NDP Group, has showed that new pizza chains are using smaller ovens that can cook pizza in a shorter amount of time. Tom Ryan, founder of Smashburger, also is the founder of a fast-casual pizza chain called Live Basil Pizza. In it’s six restaurants the company uses gas-fired brick ovens that enable the pizzas to be produced at a faster pace. According to Tom Ryan, another reason the chain is successful is because guests are opting for Neapolitan pizzas over deep-dish pizzas which have a longer cooking time.

Warren Solocheck, vice president at NPG states that, “The concept of being able to have a fast casual pizza restaurant has been is now all about who has the capital to expand.” Buffalo Wild Wings has invested $9 million dollars in an L.A-based pizza chain, PizzaRev, and now operates 11 locations throughout California as well as five franchised restaurants in Utah and Minnesota. Chipotle has also invested in Pizzeria Locale which is mostly focused in Denver.

To read more about the rise of pizza in fast casual dining, click here

Papa John’s Entrepreneurial Advice on Growing A Business

John Schnatter impressively built the global pizza franchise that is now Papa Johns. Schnatter has shared some of his most valuable lessons learned through his experiences to last month in Washington D.C. during National Small Business Week. One of the major lessons he learned from his father before he even started building his pizza empire was that hiring the best people did not necessarily mean hiring the most experienced; he stated, ” You look for people who are positive and who have integrity…That’s how he taught me to train for aptitude, hire for attitude.”

Schnatter believes in the importance of being surrounded by people with great can-do attitudes and spirits that are full of passion. The key is not to be too controlling of employees but to give them a direction to head in and provide them with the appropriate resources and lead by example. It is important to motivate and reward them when they are doing things right so that they can begin to motivate themselves.

Of course Schnatter states that one of the most important elements to growing a business is to have an effective business model. However, he also shares some advice on how important it is to make a few mistakes along the way and not get down on yourself because of them; mistakes need to be made in order to learn from them, analyze and innovate.

To read more on John Schnatter’s advice on growing a business, staying competitive and establishing a culture of entrepreneurship, click here