Robots are starting to come to commercial kitchens worldwide. Miso Robotics Inc. today announced that it has partnered with Americana Group, which operates leading food and beverage brands in the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA. The collaborators plan to begin with a pilot of the Flippy 2 frying robot at the flagship Wimpy restaurant in Dubai.
“In the past year, we’ve announced partnerships with some of the largest brands in the U.S., and that momentum has led to us being pulled internationally to introduce our technology on a global scale,” stated Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. “Americana Restaurants’ push to scale robotics in their operations is a testament to their superb operating capability in the MENA region.”
Pasadena, Calif.-based Miso Robotics has developed a platform incorporating robotic arms, machine learning, computer vision, and data analytics for systems to assist with frying, food preparation, and beverage dispensing. The company said its intelligent automation can increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve the overall dining experience.
Miso develops Flippy 2, raises funds
Miso Robotics said it designed Flippy 2 to independently do the work of an entire fry station, optimizing operations in quick-service restaurants (QSRs). Launched last year, the system can reduce order-to-delivery time, increase food consistency, and provide a better working environment for human team members, said the company.
Miso added that it is applying the lessons it has learned from brand partnerships in its first five years to continue evolving its products. The company did not specify when and if it would pilot its other robots internationally.
“At Miso, we strive to create the commercial kitchen of the future and seek to offload some of the labor-intensive, dangerous, and repetitive tasks in the back of house,” said Jake Brewer, chief strategy officer at Miso Robotics. “As the market continues to blossom, we will explore more opportunities that align our mission and with the needs of our clients’ businesses.”
With nearly 20,000 shareholders, the company has raised more than $50 million in crowdfunding to date and is currently in its Series E round, which kicked off with a market valuation of $500 million.
Americana Restaurants branches into robotics
Americana Restaurants owns the exclusive franchise rights for the management and operation of brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Hardee's, Krispy Kreme, TGI FRidays, and Wimpy in 12 countries.
In 1934, Edward Gold was inspired by a Popeye cartoon character and created Wimpy Grills in Bloomington, Ind. The chain has expanded in the U.K., South Africa, and the Middle East. Since 1969, Wimpy has served American fast food in Egypt and Kuwait. It has 16 locations in those countries and plans to launch in the United Arab Emirates this year.
Wimpy has been serving hamburgers across the MENA region since the 1970s and revamped its operations in 2021. It plans to open up to 50 additional stores in the area.
Americana Restaurants said it is integrating robots into its operations to maximize speed of service and ensure consistent quality across its network of quick- and full-service restaurants. Flippy 2 will provide Wimpy’s kitchen with a customizable robotic fry station, said the partners.
“We see the need for innovation and robotics solutions continuing to grow, and we are in constant communication with various large restaurant brands who reach out with interest in our technology,” Brewer told Robotics 24/7. “We pursue any opportunities that are a fit for our technology and for our prospective clients’ businesses.”
Wimpy pilot the start of international expansion
Wimpy customers will be able to see Flippy 2 in The Dubai Mall’s food court, which claims to be the world's second-largest and has over 100 million visitors every year.
Miso Robotics will train Americana Restaurants staffers to run and maintain the robot, said Brewer. “The Americana team has access to amazing resources for servicing and maintenance that we will certify,” he said.
Are there any specific dietary or hygiene requirements for global markets? “Many markets have specific dietary preferences and protocols, but our technology and products are designed to be customizable to a given brand’s unique needs,” Brewer replied.
He noted that the pilot will take about three months, leading into further growth. “With this being Americana’s first foray into robotics, Flippy 2 has shown it can optimize operations in quick-service restaurants and is set for further integration and expansion across other Americana Restaurants locations in the months ahead,” said Brewer.
“Americana Restaurants’ partnership with Miso Robotics marks a significant milestone for the company as we continue to strive to address shifting customer behaviors and preferences through state-of-the-art, innovative solutions,” said Melvin Michael, brand director at Wimpy. “As the first QSR operator in the MENA region to introduce the use of robotics in its kitchens, Americana Restaurants continues to show its commitment to delivering unique dining experiences to customers at their favorite iconic brands.”
“This is a true partnership that we see blossoming for many years to come, and we wanted to make sure the market was right for future deployment at additional locations,” said Bell. “The time is now to take Flippy global, and we have a great partner to do it with.”