The Restaurant AI Opportunity for ISVs

AI can benefit restaurants in optimizing processes, customer experiences, and even revenue generation throughout their operations.

Restaurant AI

Fewer industries have been more impacted by the challenges of this decade than restaurant and hospitality. It’s the last to recover its lost workforce after dining room shutdowns that began in 2020, and one of the hardest hit by rising food costs and supply chain issues. Fortunately, however, at the same time the restaurant industry’s challenges intensified and compounded, artificial intelligence (AI) matured, bringing solutions to market that allow restaurants to automate and adapt operations.

Restaurant AI Use Cases

Various forms of AI can benefit restaurants in optimizing processes, customer experiences, and even revenue generation throughout their operations.

      • Intelligent Drive-Thru Systems

AI-powered drive-thru systems use natural language processing (NLP) to understand how customers place their orders. The system then automatically enters the menu items customers want into the restaurant’s point of sale (POS) system, which transmits them to a kitchen printer or kitchen display system (KDS). With AI handling drive-thru orders, staff can focus on other tasks, like filling beverage orders or assisting customers at the counter inside the restaurant.

This restaurant AI application is still in its early stages, and solutions providers are optimizing their systems to recognize the specific item names on restaurant menus. In the meantime, solutions are designed to hand off orders to an employee to clear up any uncertainty. Overall, these systems save time, enhance customer experiences, and deliver a high accuracy rate.

      • Virtual Assistants

The high employee turnover rate in the restaurant industry means that operators devote a great deal of their time to training new staff. Virtual assistants can guide new employees through work, searching databases to provide answers to their questions or guide them through tasks step-by-step. When an employee has a question, the system can answer “ChatGPT style” with the information the trainee needs. Using an intelligent virtual assistant, new employees can learn through immersive, guided, on-the-job training.

      • Smart Upselling

Upselling can help restaurants increase average order sizes, but few staff members are consistent enough to upsell every customer – or personalize upsell offers. AI can search and analyze restaurant data to determine what individual customers like. AI can also analyze customer behaviors such as what appeals to other customers in a diner’s demographic or particularly popular pairings. These insights can increase upsell effectiveness and improve customer satisfaction by suggesting items that enhance dining experiences.

      • Hyper-Personalized Marketing

Customers expect personalization, even when a restaurant sends an email or offers a loyalty reward. AI makes hyper-personalized marketing possible. It can help restaurant operators understand their customers better, whether they operate one location or hundreds. Then, it can automate segmenting a customer list so groups receive relevant offers. Targeted campaigns result in higher marketing ROI and help build stronger customer relationships. Customers see that the restaurant knows their preferences and values their business.

      • Language Translation

Another promising restaurant AI solution is language translation. Although translation apps aren’t new, enterprising solutions providers see the opportunity to train them for the unique names and lingo restaurants use. This allows non-native-language speakers to order what they want online, in the drive-thru, or at a kiosk. It even allows them to make modifications accurately and ensure that orders don’t conflict with dietary restrictions.

While restaurant language translation apps can improve experiences for many customers, they also have the potential to enhance employee experiences. Allowing employees to interact with the KDS or other restaurant systems in their native language can improve their productivity and help create a better work environment.

      • Operations

AI is also key to intelligent restaurant automation. Machine vision can help keep drive-thru lines moving, robotics can handle repetitive kitchen and dining room tasks, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can feed AI analytics solutions data that monitor food storage to ensure proper temperature and humidity to maintain quality. Analyzing operational data also allows predictive maintenance. With those insights, restaurants can plan maintenance and avoid downtime.

How Will You Bring the Advantages of AI to Restaurants?

Although restaurant AI solutions are coming to market, the industry has just scraped the surface of what is possible. Consider learning more about the challenges this industry faces, how AI can help overcome them, and how you can use your expertise to provide solutions today’s restaurateurs need.

John Dittig

John Dittig joined MicroTouch in January 2024 as the Global Vice President with a focus on Business Development and Partnerships. Prior to joining MicroTouch, John held senior roles for Samsung, Elo Touch Solutions, Tyco Electronics (TE Connectivity), ViewSonic Corporation and Tech Data. John has over 30 years of experience managing and creating sales, marketing, and product strategies for multibillion-dollar organizations. He is a true leader with a sense of balance who is focused, creative, and driven. John has his Bachelor’s in Arts from the University of South Florida.


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John Dittig

John Dittig joined MicroTouch in January 2024 as the Global Vice President with a focus on Business Development and Partnerships. Prior to joining MicroTouch, John held senior roles for Samsung, Elo Touch Solutions, Tyco Electronics (TE Connectivity), ViewSonic Corporation and Tech Data. John has over 30 years of experience managing and creating sales, marketing, and product strategies for multibillion-dollar organizations. He is a true leader with a sense of balance who is focused, creative, and driven. John has his Bachelor’s in Arts from the University of South Florida.