Citing Improved Labor Productivity, Del Taco Broadens Use of AI

The quick-service, 600-plus-unit chain first tested the technology in 2022 before today announcing its plans to 'significantly expand' deployment.

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Courtesy of Del Taco.

Del Taco is increasing its reliance on artificial intelligence at the drive-thru.

The quick-service, 600-plus-unit chain first tested the technology in 2022 before today announcing its plans to “significantly expand” deployment at multiple locations; the exact number of locations was not immediately available. The technology, it explains, is able to greet guests, accept orders and suggest add-ons before sending the order to the point of sale and kitchen display system.

While testing the AI-powered voice assistant, Del Taco says that more than 95% or orders were completed with zero staff intervention.

Amid widespread labor challenges, Del Taco is far from the only chain to test the AI waters. Checker and Rally’s, too, has turned to AI for drive-thru assistance while select chains have tapped to AI to answer the phones.

Others, like Wing Zone, are now partnering with robotics companies to find labor efficiencies on the cookline. “We expect to open our first company-owned, robot-equipped store by mid- to late 2023,” David Bloom, Capriotti’s and Wing Zone’s chief operations and development officer, recently told FER.

Broadly, operators have mixed outlooks on labor in 2023. According to a recent National Restaurant Association poll, 87% of operators say they plan to hire additional employees within the next 11 months if qualified applicants are available. However, 57% say they’d likely lay off employees in that same time span if business conditions deteriorate and the U.S. economy enters a recession.


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