A chain that became the first in Europe to deliver its menu by drone earlier this year is planning to automate its kitchen operations with robotics in 2021.
Thai food chain Camile Thai Kitchen intends to ramp up its investment in automated cooking technology to support a large-scale expansion plan that involves opening 15 new locations within the UK and Ireland over the next 12 months.
The firm, which offers a healthy, gourmet at-home delivery dining experience, intends to create 300 jobs as part of a roll-out strategy that will see the launch of stores in locations including Epsom, Twickenham and Streatham. It currently operates 35 sites, with six in London.
Camile, which is planning to raise €10m (£9m) in funding to support its expansion, has a fiercely tech-centric strategy which has already seen it invest in cloud kitchens and use drones to deliver food.
The company is exploring ways that it can bring more speed and efficiency to the cooking process from the point of order by using the latest kitchen robotics.
It is understood that one of the steps it is planning to take it is to replace manual wok cookers with semi-automated equipment that allows it to redeploy staff away from the cookline into other areas.
Brody Sweeney, founder of Camile Thai Kitchen, said: “Despite an extremely difficult year for the hospitality sector, for Camile 2020 has seen rapid growth. Our suburban, delivery focussed model has proven to be pandemic proof in the last 11 months, not least in terms of revenue and sales.
“This has enabled us to not only push forward with our aggressive expansion plans, but also to prematurely move ahead with our main goal – our tech pivot. Our raison d’etre is delivering guilt-free, delicious takeaways – but for us, we see tech playing such an incremental role in terms of food preparation, but also UX and of course, delivery.”
Additionally, Camile will push ahead with developing its ‘franchise as a service’ venture this year.
It recently began offering flexible franchise options for business owners with well-located but underused commercial kitchens (such as restaurants, bars and hotels) in regional towns.
The venture aims to enable such businesses to easily pivot to offering Camile’s delivery menu, helping them to continue to operate despite future anticipated lockdown restrictions.
The first such premises recently opened in Sligo, Ireland and Camile aims to open five or six such outlets in the medium term.