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White Castle hiring robots as fry cooks

The robotics program is underway and will eventually be in nearly one-third of the company’s locations.
White Castle burgers and fries
A fry-making robot may be coming to a White Castle near you.Lindsey Nicholson/Education Images/ / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Robots are slowing taking over fry cook duties across the Midwest.

Fast-food chain White Castle has been outsourcing some of its jobs to robots. The hamburger chain has been implementing Miso Robotics' "Flippy 2" across the country.

The Ohio-based chain has been experimenting with the robotic fry cook since September 2020, when the original "Flippy" was installed in a Chicago area restaurant. After upgrading to "Flippy 2" at the original test location in November 2021, White Castle decided to roll out a larger version of the program.

The robot takes over the work of an entire fry station, Miso Robotics said in a statement in 2022.

"Flippy 2 alleviates the pain points that come with back-of-house roles at quick-service restaurants to create a working environment for its human coworkers that maximizes the efficiency of the kitchen," Miso Robotics said. "The improved workflow allows for the redeployment of team members to focus on creating memorable moments for customers."

"Flippy 2" works the fry station.
"Flippy 2" works the fry station.Courtesy of Miso Robotics

Miso Robotics said the rollout of the machines is being phased by region and is still in the planning stages.

In an update to in October 2023, a White Castle spokesperson said the program is still being rolled out and will eventually be in nearly one-third of the company's approximately 350 brick-and-mortar White Castle restaurants across the Midwest, Southwest and the New York area.

As of Oct. 13, there have been 17 robots installed, Jamie Richardson, vice president at White Castle said.

"The team members who work with Flippy are really, really happy and the rollout is going really well," he said. "We're continuing to roll it out into (White) Castles as we remodel and we've made really, really great and fun progress."

He added that it was "not unfathomable to think" they might someday put the robots in more than they've currently planned.

"It's helped us on speed of service, it's helped us on order accuracy," he said. "So it's, it's been a win."

White Castle is hardly the first fast-food chain to look at artificial intelligence as a way of increasing efficiency and lowering labor costs. Other chains like Sonic, McDonald’s and Checkers are working with AI companies to streamline taking orders in the drive-thru.

At the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, robots are preparing and serving meals to reporters (but not the athletes).

One restaurant in Texas hired three robots in 2021 to help serve hungry customers as waiters/food runners and in one Boston restaurant, robots prep and cook rice bowls at a low price.

Even grocery chain Kroger is working with their high-tech fulfillment centers across the country to streamline grocery delivery.