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Embracing Innovation: The Role of ‘Smart Tech’ In Restaurants

Industry Trends, Safety, Serving Solutions, Technology

Food technology is reshaping the landscape of the foodservice sector, from enhancing efficiency and consistency to ensuring food safety and sustainability. As the industry evolves at a rapid pace, the role of 'smart tech' becomes increasingly crucial in streamlining your operations and improving your customers’ experiences.

The food tech market, valued at $181.3 billion in 2022, is poised for remarkable growth, with experts projecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 8% between 2023 and 2032.1 Likewise, the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) is skyrocketing, with the AI in Food & Beverages Market estimated at USD 9.68 billion in 2024 and expected to reach a staggering USD 48.99 billion by 2029, boasting a CAGR of 38.30% during the forecast period (2024-2029).2

Eighty-nine percent of restaurants say they are currently using some form of AI in their business3 and are realizing its impact by empowering their operations with smarter, faster solutions. Still, late adaptors, now beginning to seek ways to implement transformative technologies, can boost operational efficiencies in addition to cultivating a progressive edge essential for thriving in today's fiercely competitive market. Here are three benefits of employing smart tech in your operation:

Cut Food Costs, Improve Inventory Management

Food costs pose a significant financial challenge for restaurant operators, with 58% citing it as their primary source of strain, reflecting a decline in profit margins from 10.6% to 9.3%.4 Managing inventory effectively is essential to mitigate these losses, as wasted servings, food spoilage, and excessive sitting inventory directly impact your bottom line.

What this means for me: It's crucial to prioritize quality over quantity when reviewing your menu. Identifying low-selling items and one-off ingredients allows for strategic menu adjustments, lowering overhead costs and minimizing waste. Additionally, leveraging automation technology for tasks like consistent portioning, temperature monitoring, and generating usage reports and low-level alerts can significantly reduce food waste, enhance inventory forecasting accuracy, and ultimately, lower overall food costs.

Increase Labor Productivity, Reduce Costs

The labor shortage in the restaurant industry has begun to ease, with 82% of restaurateurs reporting a shortage of at least one position, a notable improvement from the 97% reported the previous year.5 This trend is mirrored in the decreasing average cost of training a new staff member, dropping by 8% from $3,959 in 2022 to $3,646 in 2023.6 As operators prioritize reducing labor costs, increasing productivity emerges as the top strategy.

What this means for me: Consider adopting user-friendly automation technology that diminishes the need for human workers to perform repetitive tasks, while also making it easy for staff to understand and utilize. By empowering your staff with smart tech solutions, you enable them to produce high-quality food without the need for extensive culinary expertise. This not only streamlines food preparation back of house (BOH) but also simplifies training processes, facilitating more efficient onboarding and upskilling initiatives.

Implement Personalization, Enhance Customer Experience

In today's competitive foodservice industry, establishments that provide personalized experiences not only distinguish themselves but also cultivate stronger customer loyalty and satisfaction. Consumers today are well-informed and expect operators to utilize technology and data analytics to understand their preferences better, enhancing their overall dining experiences. This includes catering to individual needs, dietary restrictions, and evolving palates.

What this means for me: Enhance customer experiences by prominently featuring a nutritional key on your menu, such as icons for dairy-free, gluten-free, or vegan-friendly options, aligned to specific menu items that cater to diverse lifestyle needs. Employ AI technology such as machine-learning (ML) algorithms and natural language processing (NLP) to analyze, capture and automate past online ordering preferences, streamline future orders and improve the user experience, thus encouraging repeat visits. Additionally, incorporating turnkey equipment like customizable sauce or beverage stations that dispense a wide range of flavors and trending favorites adds a personalized touch, ensuring patrons find their perfect fit.

What to Look for in a Smart Tech Partner

A food and beverage technology partner should design innovative solutions tailored to meet the challenges of today’s ever-evolving restaurant operator. The new IxD™ Series, with IoT-enablement capabilities and SmartWares® Technology, developed to deliver upon the Core Four℠ platform, sets a new standard for style and operational excellence, ensuring efficiency and consistency in every aspect of your restaurant’s operations.

With the IxD Series, you’ll be able to create perfectly crafted, customized beverages, efficiently deliver perfect portions of sauces and consistently coat orders of wings effortlessly – alleviating manual processes and reducing product waste. Options include the Flavor+ Syrup Dispenser, the Sauce+ Sauce Dispenser for use with the automated Spin+ Sauce Coater, and the Single+ and Multi+ Condiment Dispensers.

In addition, Server Essentials™ point-of-use dispensing, serving, and holding equipment is crafted with your needs in mind, so you can serve easier, faster, and better than ever before. From pumps and dispensers that control costs and serve precise portions to rethermalizing foodservice warmers engineered to keep food at peak flavor from the first serving to the last, you’ll discover a broad line of equipment options to optimize your operation.

Within the dynamic foodservice landscape, the integration of smart technology is no longer a choice but a necessity for success. By embracing automation and AI-driven solutions, restaurants can streamline operations, reduce costs, and deliver exceptional customer experiences. For 75 years, Server has stood as a foundation of support for our customers in their journey toward innovation and growth. Connect with us today to discover how our progressive products and innovative efforts can transform your business.




3, 4, 5, 6 The State of Restaurants in 2024, TouchBistro