Let’s break down what they do: Before any robots get involved, Zume uses a proprietary algorithm to predict how many pies (and which types) will be ordered on any given night. Then, the four pizza robots get to work preparing those pies at their central kitchen. They are parbaked just enough to get loaded into one of Zume’s delivery trucks, which are outfitted with special pizza-cooking ovens that bake the pies at around 800 degrees en route to customers. The result? A fresher delivery pizza, at your door in as little as five minutes.
At a typical delivery joint, the profit margins on food are so, well, marginal, that workers usually earn low wages and receive few benefits. Because of Zume’s automation technology, it’s able to offer its (human) employees better pay and benefits as well as things like management training, higher education, and other opportunities. (Garden notes a majority of its front-office workers started as drivers or kitchen staff.)
By the end of 2018, Zume will be available in 26 trade areas (compared to three currently), equal to half of the San Francisco Bay Area -- and it has already secured $48 million in funding for the expansion. In April, the brand also founded Zume Inc., an umbrella company that will allow its executives to collaborate with companies looking to get into the food truck game and provide their technological know-how (ordering algorithms, robots, automated ovens) as a platform for other eateries.
“[Our] approach is applicable to basically every type of food in the US,” Garden says. “We think this is something that could help restaurants, on-demand delivery companies, big national chains, and it helps customers and employees.” So, if by December, you find out your favorite delivery pie was actually handcrafted by a robot named Giorgio, don’t be alarmed -- it’s all part of the plan.