Tech roundup: Noodles opens a second ghost kitchen – Restaurant Business Online

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Welcome to RB’s weekly roundup of the latest in restaurant technology. To get this and other tech news sent right to your inbox every Wednesday, click here.
While we were busy covering the FSTEC conference last week, the restaurant technology news kept right on coming. 
Check out some of our most-read FSTEC coverage below, or scroll down further to see what else you might have missed.
Noodles & Company opened its second ghost kitchen. The new outlet in central San Jose, Calif., follows an initial test in Chicago that began in the spring. The company said the kitchens are a cost-effective way to expand while also increasing access to its food. 
The chain considers San Jose to be an emerging market, and will use the kitchen to get a sense of customer dynamics in the area, said CMO Stacey Pool in a statement.
Both of the fast casual’s ghost kitchens are located in multi-brand facilities run by CloudKitchens. Customers can order on Noodles’ website or app, or via third-party delivery providers.
Back-office tech company MarginEdge raised $18 million. The Series B round was led by Schooner Capital and included a contribution from big distributor Gordon Food Service’s investment arm, Relish Works. MarginEdge works with more than 2,400 restaurants in 47 states and said it is on track to end 2021 with 200% year-over-year growth.
Delivery software company Vromo raised $8 million. The Series A round was led by Dutch firm No Such Ventures. Dublin-based Vromo spun off from a last-mile delivery company in 2019 to focus solely on the software side. Its technology helps restaurants offer more efficient delivery with a focus on the customer experience. Vromo will use the funding to continue growing in both Europe and the U.S.
Apex Order Pickup Solutions unveiled a high-tech locker pickup system. The OrderHQ Series can integrate with a restaurant’s POS and allows customers to pick up their food by entering a unique code. It also provides data on order efficiency and can ease labor by automating the hand-off. The lockers will be manufactured by equipment giant Welbilt.
Apex pickup lockersApex’s pickup lockers come in floor or counter models. / Photograph courtesy of Apex Order Pickup Solutions
Pizzerias that use the Slice platform can now offer video game perks to guests. The technology company on Monday launched Slice Gaming, a partnership with video game company Ubisoft. Over the next month, customers who order pizza via Slice will get rewards they can apply to purchases within the new game “Far Cry 6.” The initiative is part of Slice’s strategy of giving independent pizzerias the same tools as large chains.
You can now pay with your face at the robotic boba machine. Bobacino, the fully automated boba kiosk, is partnering with facial recognition payment company PopID to enable the new contactless way to pay. Customers with a PopID account can pay by face while ordering at the machine or while pre-ordering via PopID’s app. Both companies are backed by venture capital firm Wavemaker.
Ghost kitchen company Epic Kitchens named three people to its board of directors. They are:
Epic Kitchens prepares food from multiple brands in a single facility for delivery and pickup. It is focused on growing in Chicago, where it currently has one location in operation and another coming soon.
Corporate catering marketplace EzCater hired a chief product officer. Josh Berg previously held leadership roles with Wayfair and CarGurus and helped guide both companies through IPOs. He joins ezCater amid a period of rapid growth: The company has seen order volume spike 70% in recent months as people return to offices, and it is planning to increase its staff by 50% this year.
Thanx and Tattle are integrating to help improve loyalty. Both companies collect customer data in different ways—Thanx via transactions and Tattle via detailed surveys. Thanx then allows restaurants to create personalized promotions based on that information. The integration will give restaurants access to “the most comprehensive data available,” the companies said.
In case you missed it …
How restaurants can make third-party delivery work for them.
Robots could be food delivery’s best hope.
DoorDash launches alcohol delivery.
A look at Chick-fil-A’s ghost kitchen, Little Blue Menu.
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