In this addition of the Miller NAFEM blog series, we will focus on Chowbotics, the manufacturer responsible for one of the hottest new items on the market right now, Sally the Salad Robot.
This was year was an exciting one for the Chowbotics team because this was the company’s first time at NAFEM, and what was described as a “coming out party” of sorts for Sally. For those reading who may not have heard of this groundbreaking invention yet, Sally the Salad Robot is the world’s first automated vending machine that dispenses fresh food, namely salads and other fresh food bowls of the like. Sally contains 22 individual containers and gives customers the ability to make and customize their own acai bowls, grain bowls, salads, or even yogurt parfaits. Right now, the people at Chowbotics are really seeing a lot of success in the healthcare, hospitality, and B&I markets. While these markets are considered Sally’s “sweet spot,” Chowbotics is also continuing to see interest from many college campuses, due to the allure that Sally’s new technology brings to the table.
At this year’s NAFEM show, Chowbotics did not have a very large booth, but they certainly saw the foot traffic that many of the bigger booths were seeing. With constant demonstrations and networking happening, the booth stayed constantly occupied and busy. The Miller team spoke with Chowbotics’ Southeast Regional Manager Dennis Lock about NAFEM and how it has helped people see what they’d already heard so much about.
“We get to be seen by a lot of people,” Lock said. “What we’re finding today, in particular, is that there are a number of customers coming over to see Sally for the first time. So far, no one’s come over that hadn’t heard of Sally. So, we’re not getting a lot of walk-by traffic that is ‘oh, what’s that?’ We’re getting people that are seeking her out. So, for this, this really gives our customers an opportunity to see, touch, feel, and really get the full Sally experience…It’s not the easiest thing to take Sally to someone. So, to have them come to see us and seek us out and go through the full demo, it’s fantastic.”
The people at Chowbotics wanted people to walk away from their booth at NAFEM this year thinking that Sally was better than they had heard. From the turnout they got, it’s safe to say they got what they wanted.
You can watch the companion video to this blog on our YouTube channel at the link below!
You can also check out a more in-depth look at Sally from a previous blog post on our website:
Imagine never having to worry if the sneeze guard on the salad bar stopped the germs from reaching your ingredients. Imagine never having to wonder how long a salad has been sitting on the shelf in a convenience store. Sally the Salad-Making Robot, Miller & Associates’ newest product line from Chowbotics, takes all those worries away. She’s not just the newest development in food service technology, she’s revolutionizing the way people look at the food service industry.
Soon to start appearing in many airports, office break rooms, convenience stores and more, Sally fixes many of the problems with your average self-serve salad bar station. She dispenses over 100 of the freshest salad ingredients and over 20 of the most popular salad dressings, giving users more options and customization and variety than the alternative. Sally can even do grain-based bowls with ingredients like quinoa and wild rice, so customers looking for something outside of the regular garden-green salad have an option as well. All these options may seem overwhelming, but not to fear, operators can preset recipes so that customers can quickly find the salad they’re looking for and tell Sally to make it with the touch of a button. Sally also has refrigerated chambers for each ingredient and dispenses ingredients by weight, allowing for a more efficient storage system that guarantees fresher ingredients and to cut down on food waste and food cost. Sally doesn’t limit herself to the self-serve market, either. Jeff Griffiths, President and co-owner of Miller & Associates, explains how Sally could also help the restaurant industry by cutting down the interaction between human hands and the food before it reaches the customer.
“[If you] preprogram your menu salads…Sally will make those salads instead of a human. So you can have your server go back into the kitchen to drop an order, and when that server walks by Sally, she or he hits ‘chicken Caesar salad,’ Sally makes the salad, the server delivers it with the food and the kitchen has never touched it.”
Sally also helps businesses cut down on labor costs and helps save on food purchasing. Due to the nature of how Sally works, businesses spend a lot less time and man-hours on keeping up their salad stations. The only labor that goes into Sally is prepping the ingredients and keeping her stocked, which won’t be a problem because Sally can dispense 50 entrée sized salads before needing to be refilled. Food cost will always be the same with Sally since she allows operators to set how much of each ingredient she dispenses at one time.
“Let’s say all of a sudden there’s a huge run on carrots and carrots become three times as expensive as they are now,” Griffiths said giving an example. “You could go in and adjust that to be a third of the amount of carrots. It’s a great tool for managing your food costs with extreme accuracy.”
Sally and the technology that exists within her is all made possible thanks to Chowbotics and their founder/CEO, Deepak Sekar. Sekar, who has a doctorate in electronics and computer engineering, decided to create Chowbotics in September 2014 after realizing that food-service technology could help people save time in their weekday; during a time when things are already busy and rushed, Sekar didn’t want himself or others to have to worry about spending even more time worrying about their food. In the time since Chowbotics’ inception, Sekar and his team have worked on the tech of Sally, making sure she would be ready for market when they decided to put her on sale this year.
Chowbotics isn’t just going to stop at Sally, though. Coming sometime soon Chowbotics also plans to unveil a breakfast making robot that will be able to make custom breakfast bowls with ingredients like quinoa, fruit, yogurt and many more. This is just the beginning of the food-service technology revolution that Chowbotics has kicked into gear. In the meantime, until the unnamed breakfast-bot is revealed, Sally is here to make your salad and make your day.
Preview Sally the Salad Robot with Chef Charlie Ayers.