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Restaurant Roundup: Robotic Delivery Expands as eCommerce Comes for Breakfast

Robotic food delivery is becoming increasingly common. C3 by SBE, the Beverly Hills-based food tech company behind 40 virtual and physical restaurant brands, announced Thursday (Oct. 28) that it is partnering with delivery robot creator Coco for remote-controlled fulfillment. The partnership is meant to increase speed by 30%, relative to using a human driving a car.

“C3 is taking a digital-first approach to expand into new markets faster than any of our delivery-focused competitors,” Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of C3, said in a statement. “We are proud to support a fellow disrupter that has created a tech-advanced delivery solution and we hope other restauranteurs follow our lead.”

For its part, Coco has been in the news in recent months for announcing in August that it had raised $36 million in Series A funding, bringing its total funding to $43 million. Investors in the round included C3’s Nazarian.

The delivery partnership spans a two-mile radius around each of a handful of C3’s digital kitchens in Los Angeles — one in Santa Monica, one in West Hollywood and one in Los Feliz. If these early tests are successful, the companies will expand the partnership to other parts of the city and to additional cities.

“We believe there is no reason to have a three-thousand-pound car deliver burgers over short distances,” said Zach Rash, co-founder and CEO of Coco. “We have an enormous opportunity to create a better experience for hundreds of thousands of merchants and their customers.”

Waitr Aims to Grow Breakfast Sales with Denny’s Partnership

Speaking of delivery, during the pandemic, many more consumers began turning to online restaurant delivery services to meet their lunch and dinner needs, but the morning daypart remains tricky for most key players. To grow their breakfast sales, digital ordering and delivery company Waitr announced Thursday that it is partnering with Denny’s to add delivery from 400 of the restaurant chain’s locations.

“The addition of Denny’s creates yet a new level of convenience for our customers looking for their favorites, especially an early-morning meal,” Carl Grimstad, CEO and chairman of Waitr, said in a statement. “We have moved up start times for delivery to serve those looking for breakfast and are also staying open longer for the late-night crowd.”

Digital ordering is on the rise. Findings from PYMNTS’ How We Eat playbook, created in collaboration with Carat from Fiserv, show that consumers now are 31% more likely to buy meals for delivery or pickup than they are to dine on-site, and 47% of consumers reported that they had ordered delivery in the last month.

See also: Up for Grabs: Restaurants and Grocers See Path to Picking up 200 Million New Customers

“Through this new partnership with Waitr, we are increasing guest access to our delicious menu items across all dayparts,” said John Dillon, EVP and chief brand officer at Denny’s.

Multi-Format Restaurant Dig Announces $65M Series F

Dig (formerly Dig Inn), a New York City-based restaurant group with a digital-forward approach, announced Wednesday (Oct. 27) that it has raised $65 million in its Series F funding round, with plans to use this funding to expand to new markets with multiple different formats. The company currently has 24 locations across New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

“In the near future, we can expect kitchen technology, innovations and new format releases,” the company’s news release states, going on to imply that these new developments will include the implementation of automated technologies.

Additionally, Dig notes that there is a new program already underway at one of the chain’s New York City locations that “combines the best of their quick-service, full-service, and delivery capabilities to provide an entirely new dining experience.”

The chain’s existing tech initiatives include its ordering and loyalty app with a range of digital payment capabilities, an SMS integration by which consumers can earn loyalty points through messaging, an online catering business, group ordering tools and other integrations for corporate meals.

KFC Taps Nintendo Vet as New CMO to Drive eCommerce Sales

As Yum Brands works to drive digital spending across its brands, subsidiary KFC announced Friday (Oct. 29) that it is naming Nick Chavez its new chief marketing officer of KFC U.S. Chavez previously worked for 11 years at Nintendo of America, most recently as senior vice president of sales, marketing and communications. The announcement highlights Chavez’s success in digital marketing, driving eCommerce innovation.

“Nick is a proven leader who has a track record of demonstrating the smart, heart and courage leadership needed at Yum! & KFC,” Kevin Hochman, president of KFC U.S., said in a statement. “He has launched blockbuster new products at an iconic brand, and he’s an expert in migrating retail brick-and-mortar business into e-commerce. His experience will help us to deliver KFC’s next chapter of growth.”

The news comes as Yum Brands looks to invest in its digital growth not only in terms of online, off-premises sales but also at its physical restaurants.

“Not only are we seeing strong development across our brands, but given the continued strength of digital and off-premises growth, our teams continue to evolve the asset types being developed into more digitally enabled formats,” Chief Financial Officer Chris Turner told analysts on a call Thursday.

Read more: Taco Bell Parent to Develop Digitally Integrated Restaurant Formats Across Brands

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