For better or worse, the presence of artificial intelligence is ramping up in more and more industries, and the restaurant world is no exception. A new burger shop in Pasadena is currently turning the heads of local foodies, AI buffs and naysayers, restaurant owners, and the like. This is CaliExpress by Flippy™, and it purports to be the world’s first fully-autonomous, AI-powered restaurant.
CaliExpress’s simple menu consists of a hamburger, cheeseburger, lettuce wrap, fries, and beverages. Customers will start at a self-ordering kiosk to order and pay, and then watch the robot team take care of every step. This includes freshly grinding the wagyu beef blend, stacking the burger itself, and cooking the crispy french fries with meticulous precision. It’s all done with AI-powered, fully-automated grill and fry stations.
The enterprise is a collaboration between holding company Cali Group, robotics company Miso Robotics, and biometric tech company PopID.
Miso Robotics is known for creating Flippy, “the world’s first AI-powered robotic fry station.” Visitors to the restaurant can see previous iterations of Flippy in a “pseudo-museum experience” which details the product development.
“The marriage of these various technologies to create the most autonomous restaurant in the world is the culmination of years of research, development, and investment in a family of revolutionary companies,” said PopID CEO John Miller in a press release.
Critics of the autonomous restaurant concept tend to congregate in Miso Robotics’ Instagram comments, arguing that robot-run tasks will put people out of work. Other commenters take the opposite stance, commending the innovation.
As for CaliExpress by Flippy, they’ve argued that a robot-run setup creates a “safer, easier, and friendlier” kitchen, citing a decreased likelihood of slippage, burns, and waste. Early posts on the Miso Robotics Instagram have generally presented the big robotic arm in an assistant role alongside prep cooks, in line with this more idealistic (and perhaps indiscreetly rose-colored) view.
According to the latest news from CaliExpress by Flippy, the restaurant will be available by reservation only in December 2023 with a grand opening TBA. The website’s reservation system is still not live as of the publishing of this article, but the hours are listed as Monday-Friday from 11am-2pm and 5pm-8pm. You’ll find the business at 561 E Green St. in Pasadena.
What do you think about LA County’s newest restaurant? Is Flippy here to stay?