LIVIT – THE FUTURE IS NOW

The 18|89 Fast Fine Pizza restaurant in the heart of Stockholm was originally conceived by industry-leading Livit Design as a tech and data-driven test lab. With efficiency and guest-centric experiences at its core, the concept not only proves that analytics and automation are the new salt and pepper of the restaurant industry, its commercial success also demonstrates that the future is now.

By Kim Wyon

Headquartered in the Spanish capital and founded by Stockholm-based Benjamin Calleja, Livit Design has long been at the forefront of strategic, guest-centric design. One of the world’s largest restaurant design companies operating in 43 countries on 5 continents, Livit has helped evolve such global brands as Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, Taco Bell and Vapiano.

Yet in a world where big-data analytics and the whiz and whirr of industrial robots change businesses faster than we sometimes imagine, the restaurant market has proven overly cautious – even complacent – and continues to demonstrate a surprising lack of vision for the potential of a total technological rethink. Until now, that is.

With radical change in mind, Benjamin Calleja and his design team decided to mastermind a test laboratory for integrated restaurant technology driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. And in early 2017, restaurant 18|89 Fast Fine Pizza in Stockholm’s vibrant Norrmalm district was born

Combining wallet-friendly convenience with quality culinary experiences, this showcase concept not only proves that technology is ready to disrupt the industry, its commercial success also demonstrates that the restaurant market is ready for a makeover.

SEAMLESS SERVICE

With 18|89, the Livit Design team set out to envision what the restaurant experience should be like in a tech-driven age. Rather than employing technology as an upfront gimmick, their aim was to use non-invasive and almost invisible technology to support efficient, guest-centric service, while ensuring the restaurant learns from customer behaviour to manage and drive sales.

18|89 (whose name incidentally alludes to the historic year the term Pizza Margherita was coined in Naples) offers menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs – but made using high-tech equipment. And although an automated pizza-maker may sound like a sci-fi gizmo from ‘Back to the Future’, the technology is real and ready.

“People often imagine robots being like humanoids with two arms, but they are just another level of automation. A dishwasher is an automated appliance – and so is an automated pizza oven, although such an apparatus is naturally far more packed with technology,” Benjamin Calleja says to GUEST magazine.

Service at 18|89 is so seamless and efficient that the average time it takes from the moment you place an order at the counter until your piping hot pizza is served at your table is just 3.5 minutes. Bluetooth-enabled sensors track the whereabouts of your smartphone in the restaurant, accurate to within a metre, which allows waiters to know exactly where you have chosen to sit – even if you haven’t tuned in to their WiFi. Indeed, your every move will be analysed.

Beacons throughout the restaurant compile a heat map every 15 minutes, determining the number of diners and their concentration. This information helps analyse where guests prefer to dine and allows restaurant managers to optimise capacity by choosing the right mix of two-top and four-top tables at any given time of day. Outdoor sensors also register the walk-in rate against the general footfall on the street, letting the restaurant know its “capture rate” – and potential.

Another mobile-driven technology employed at 18|89 is their geofencing-enabled app, which helps estimate the pickup time for takeaway orders, whether you collect your pizza yourself or ask a third-party company to handle the delivery. Based on the predicted arrival time, your pizza order will be oven-fired exactly 3.5 minutes before pickup so it is steaming hot and ready to go. Takeout operations are so seamlessly integrated that all orders are processed on the same tablet no matter which delivery company the order is placed through.

Scandinavian consumer markets are almost cashless and payments are generally contactless and often mobile-driven. But at 18|89, Livit has taken fast payment one step further.

“Our aim was that ordering via the restaurant smartphone app should be as smooth as booking an Uber,” Benjamin Calleja points out.

And that’s exactly how diners at restaurant 18|89 also settle their bills – with their smartphone app. If you are a returning guest there’s even a shortcut option to reorder your menu favourites.

“We are now testing the experience of a message popping up on your phone saying: ‘Welcome back Benjamin,’ and offering you the option of reordering your menu choices from previous visits. Then you simply take any seat in the restaurant and wait for your order to be served. Afterwards, you’ll be asked to rate your dining experience on the app,” Benjamin Calleja explains.

The interior of the 18|89 restaurant complete with artworks by legendary graffiti artists are set to match the gourmet pizzas, which are designed by Michelin-rated chefs but made by robots. Sensors throughout the restaurant keep track of where diners choose to sit so waiters can serve the right pizzas to the right customers.
The average time it takes from you place an order at the counter until your piping hot pizza is served at your table of choice is just 3.5 minutes.
Their geofencing-enabled app helps estimate the pickup time for takeaway orders. Based on the predicted arrival time, your pizza will be oven-fired exactly 3.5 minutes before pickup.

DRIVING SALES

Brand-curated soundtracks, mood lighting, artificial scents – driving sales at 18|89 is highly multisensory. Throughout the day, the restaurant ambiance can be tweaked to encourage specific menu choices and influence consumer behaviour.

One of the technologies employed is dynamic volume control. Livit Design has partnered with the Spotify-backed company Soundtrack Your Brand, which is also based in Stockholm – Scandinavia’s unrivalled leading tech hub.

As the name implies, Soundtrack Your Brand designs customised “brand-fit” playlists that reflect the emotional feel of your corporate brand. At 18|89 Fast Fine Pizza, the playlists for peak hours are energised, high-volume and mainly consist of popular, familiar tracks.

These soundtracks encourage a high turnover of diners, perfect for peak dining hours. Less upbeat background music played at a lower volume and consisting of less familiar tracks is featured during off-peak hours to invite diners to linger and increase the sales of high-margin dishes and menu extras such as desserts and coffees.

The use of signature scents to help build brand identity is relatively common in the hotel industry. But artificial scents are rarely used in restaurants. At 18|89, scents are deployed in the dining and outside areas to subliminally encourage the consumption of certain menu items at given times, such as boosting salad sales early in the week with a whiff of fresh basil, while wood-fire scents are used during weekends to spark a hearty appetite for pizzas.

Ambiance lighting is always a mood-maker, and restaurant 18|89 Fast Fine Pizza is no exception. But where dimming is usually a manual option, outdoor sensors at 18|89 ensure the place always seems inviting no matter the weather or time of day.

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

Streamlined operational systems are essential to any hospitality enterprise. But where Livit has raised the bar is the sheer magnitude of business intelligence generated by artificial intelligence (“BI from AI” as they call it at Livit Design).

Based on a wide range of information – not only that gleaned directly from restaurant operations but also from external factors, such as weather patterns, nearby events, traffic congestion, payday and footfall stats – predictive modelling can be applied to forecast customer turnover and help manage restaurant inventory and staff rosters.

After all, in restaurants that rely on walk-ins rather than table reservations, the more accurately you can predict your sales, the more profitable the business. Another advantage of algorithm-generated analytics is that it offers actionable insights into when, where and how to target advertising, ensuring the resources you invest in public relations are well placed.

Predictive modelling combined with real-time inventory monitoring can also help determine which menu items to promote on the restaurant’s intelligent menu screens. Such comprehensive intelligence naturally offers competitive edge – and 18|89 has proved its business case. Profitable within months of opening, the restaurant is a case study in tech and data-driven business development.

So, what’s next for Livit Design? They are currently preparing the next generation of their restaurant concept, called V as a reference to the roman numeral five, a hint to the five senses experience. Currently, two units are under construction, Los Angeles opening in August and Malmö in September this year. Here, they will evolve the technology of their Stockholm venture and fine-tune the concept to the location, always with efficiency and profitability in mind.

“Whenever we design a new restaurant, it’s never just a copy-paste operation. We scale and adapt the concept to the location. The keyword is always efficiency. Think of a restaurant design as a car. There are many automakers in the world and their different models can have all sorts of colours and styles. But the engine parts inside the chassis are often the same. That also applies to restaurants. At their core, they are similar in technology and operations, so it’s in this ‘engine room’ the key lies to efficiency and profitability,” Benjamin Calleja concludes.

TECH BOX

The future-forward technology at restaurant 18|89 explained

PREDICTIVE MODELLING

Using AI algorithms, predictive modelling draws on a wide range of information, including previous sales performance and external factors like public holidays, city events, traffic and payday stats. Predictive modelling can help optimise operations and staff rosters.

GEOFENCING

Geofenced monitoring allows restaurants to know when a takeaway order will be collected. This requires the person picking up the order to enable a geofencing option in their smartphone app. Using GPS technology, a virtual boundary is created that lets restaurants know when to process the order so it is ready on time for pickup.

HEAT-MAPPING 

Sensors inside the restaurant monitor the location and concentration of guests every 15 seconds. The derived information can be used in predictive modelling so restaurant managers can identify peak hours and optimise capacity by choosing the right table layout.

DYNAMIC VOLUME CONTROL

Brand-fit background playlists are designed to either encourage fast turnover or invite diners to linger and order menu extras. Upbeat, high-volume music with familiar songs results in short restaurant stays, whereas low-volume, less familiar music encourages longer stays.