College campuses are testbeds for innovations ranging from delivery robots to kitchen automation. Chartwells Higher Education, a food service management contractor, today announced that it has partnered with Picnic Works Inc., which has developed pizza-assembly systems. The companies said they will help Texas A&M Dining reduce food waste while using cost-effective technology to create pizzas on campus.
“Picnic is incredibly happy to be partnering with Texas A&M as the first university to deploy the Picnic Pizza Station. As a former student, it makes it even nicer to see our station at home in Aggieland,” said Clayton Wood '80, CEO of Picnic. “Bringing the Picnic Pizza Station to Texas A&M is the first step of many innovations to come.”
Picnic serves up pizza, efficiency
Founded in 2016, Picnic has developed systems for the food service and hospitality industries. The Seattle-based company said its food-assembly platform integrates robotics, software, the cloud, and deep learning technology. It recently received “Best of CES 2020” recognition.
The Picnic Pizza Station is autonomous and completely customizable for each order, said the company. After loading the dough, the Picnic station applies sauce, cheese, fresh-cut pepperoni, and additional toppings. The finished pizzas are then loaded into the kitchen’s ovens for cooking.
Each hour, the Picnic station can assemble up to 100 pizzas that serve 400 people. “The Picnic Pizza Station is a labor-saving kitchen essential that increases productivity, decreases food waste, and improves food handling and safety,” said the company, which offers its system through a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model.
Chartwells pleased with personnel shift
Chartwells Higher Education, Charlotte, N.C.-based subsidiary of Chartwells Group, serves more than 300 college and university dining environments across the U.S. Picnic and Chartwells claimed that they are bringing “the world's first pizza assembly station to a college campus dining facility.”
“Through Picnic, Chartwells is able to not only provide more efficient and timely service to guests, but also reduce potential food and product waste by 80%,” said the companies. “In addition, Chartwells gets to bring Texas A&M students a truly unique dining experience and one that’s never been seen before on a college campus.”
“We've seen a significant increase in efficiency with the Picnic Pizza Station,” said Marc Cruz, district executive chef at Chartwells Higher Education. “What used to take three people now only requires one which allows us to free people up to do other critical duties in the kitchen.”