3 Automated Restaurant Innovations
The are striving to meet consumers demands of convenience
In March, the Sprinkles cupcake chain installed a “cupcake ATM” at its original location in Beverly Hills, Calif., that has red velvet-craving patrons lining up at all hours of the day and night.
Though he declined to reveal revenues, Nelson said the ATM alone sells roughly 1,000 cupcakes per day.
Nelson said machines will be added to five more Sprinkles locations — in New York; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Dallas and Houston — before the end of the year, bringing ATM outlets to six of the chain’s 10 locations. Beyond that, the cupcake bakery is also looking to bring the ATMs to other high-traffic locations not near the bakeries.
The idea grew from customer demand, Nelson said. Sprinkles stores are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. typically, but customers begged them to stay open later so that they could satisfy late-night cupcake cravings. While it didn’t make sense to keep the bakery open and staffed into the wee hours, the automated alternative was a solution.
Using a digital touch screen, ATM users can select from a variety of flavors — red velvet being one of the chain's most popular — which are stocked throughout the day. Customers can watch on the screen while a robotic arm selects their cupcake, which is presented in Sprinkles signature individual box.
The machine takes credit cards only.
Because bakers are working until about midnight and are back by 3 a.m. to begin the next day, the ATM can be stocked with fresh products around the clock, Nelson said.
Even at non-bakery locations, the ATMs will be stocked at least twice daily. “We wouldn’t compromise on freshness,” he said.
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