Sodexo, together with North Carolina A&T State University, has opened a virtual restaurant concept that offers mobile ordering and robot delivery from a ghost kitchen. The new 1891 Revolution dining concept leverages the latest in campus dining trends, marrying the ghost kitchen concept - a take-out/delivery only dining venue - with mobile ordering and autonomous delivery robots from Starship Technologies.
According to a Food Management report, the new virtual kitchen concept began service on March 14, using a kitchen space previously occupied by a traditional retail dining outlet. The location was already equipped with all the necessary equipment and infrastructure to prepare and package food at scale.
“Our team is always looking to find ways to implement creative and innovative concepts for our dining program," says Joe Burdi, Sodexo Resident District Manager. "A virtual kitchen concept just really seemed to fit the students’ needs and requests by providing a variety of dining and menu options, along with the convenience of the mobile ordering and delivery through our autonomous robot service.”
The ghost kitchen offers a rotation of different cuisine concepts throughout the academic year, all available for delivery via Starship robot. Offerings include made-to-order Hibachi dishes, Sodexo's Mr. Beast smashburger concept, with plans for additional concepts to be introduced in the 2022-23 academic year.
The average wait time for a robot delivery is currently 20-30 minutes, depending on how busy the kitchen is and where the delivery is to be made. Each robot carries a single order at a time. NCATSU opted to use the Higher Education Relief Fund (HERF) to support the launch of the robot delivery service, so there will be no delivery or service fees charged to students for the first two years of the program.
NCATSU launched Starship robot delivery last October, deploying a fleet of 20 robots. The initiative was so well received that Sodexo has since added 30 more robots to the fleet. In addition to orders from 1891 Revolution ghost kitchen, the robots also make deliveries from most of the retail dining concepts on campus.
NCATSU's robot delivery program overall is averaging about 400 deliveries per day, with roughly 120 of those orders being placed at 1891 Revolution. The program process over 12,000 robot delivery orders per month.
Currently, Sodexo is also looking to extend the robot delivery service to groceries and is using the spring semester to refine it with the intention of full launch in the fall.