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.
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.