After two years in the making, a group of Stanford graduates is opening their first restaurant location where robots are serving up fresh meals for a low price.
"We started thinking through this in 2020, so almost two years ago now, when we realized we didn't really have any great, affordable, healthy food options on or around campus," Mezli co-founder and CEO Alex Kolchinski said in an interview on "Varney & Co." Friday.
Located in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, Mezli offers Mediterranean-style bowls put together on a robot assembly line. Its menu features more than 60,000 customizable variations.
Customers walk-up to Mezli’s ordering touch screen, place their order and keep track of its process on their personal smartphones. When it’s ready for pickup, customers retrieve their food from a smart locker.
"The glass here actually turns clear when your order is ready, and your bowl comes out, you grab anything else you need, and you've got a healthy meal for a low price," Kolchinski explained.
Mezli’s co-founder and CEO claimed the fully-automated restaurant makes the cost of operation cheaper for two reasons: fewer labor costs and less capital to return.
"One, is that these are actually a lot cheaper to build than a restaurant, so there's less capital to return," Kolchinski noted. "The other is that we have our staff in our central kitchen where they can do their job more efficiently, and onsite, we need barely any labor at all, so we're able to pass that savings on to customers."
In situations where customers may not be fully satisfied with their orders, Kolchinksi expressed that their first location has human staff on-hand to address any additional needs.
"But in the longer term, there's email and phone contact that the customers can reach out to us through so we can again step in," the CEO said.
Each autonomous kitchen has a price tag just above $500,000, according to Kolchinski, and Mezli has plans to expand their robot-run restaurants.
"But we expect to be able to get that [price] down substantially because these are mass producible," he pointed out.