Pizza on the fly
The future of pizza is coming in for a landing at San Antonio International Airport — in the form of a saucy, pepperoni-slinging standalone robot.
Basil Street Pizza, a Los Angeles-based company founded in 2016 that dishes out brick-oven-style pizzas through its entirely automated food kiosks, is partnering with airport-focused specialty vending biz Prepango to bring one of the pizza bots to the San Antonio airport.
According to industry site Restaurant Business, SAIA will be among the first airports to score a Basil Street pizza machine, with the publication noting in mid-October that the installation is expected “in the coming weeks.”
Other airports expected to receive the pizza bots include Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Cincinnati/North Kentucky International Airport, and Indianapolis International Airport, though Basil Street CEO Deglin Kenealy says the deal with Prepango could lead to the installation of as many as 200 airport pizza bots in the next year to 18 months, also noting the company is aiming to bring the machines to office buildings, university spaces, and factories — all locales generally teeming with hungry pizza eaters with little feeding time.
The Basil Street website says its pizza bots are currently located in Palmdale, California, and Denver, as well as in Texas in Waller, Canton, Austin, and Fort Hood.
Basil Street’s automated machines cook its frozen pizzas within three minutes — without the use of a microwave — through its person-less contraptions, run on patented technology. Customers simply order via the touchscreen or scan a QR code with a smartphone, make their pizza choice, pay with a card, then await their crispy, cheesy 10-inch pie.
Each pizza bot serves up three pie flavors: four cheese, pepperoni, and supreme (ranging from about $13-$15), though Basil Street also offers pizza-of-the-month varieties, with its current flavors including buffalo chicken and breakfast pizza.
Of course, vending machines are nothing new, particularly at airports. But the move toward fully automated cooking bots is a trend that’s on the rise and likely to continue to grow. According to MarketWatch, the global “intelligent vending machine” market was worth $6.5 billion in 2020, and is projected to grow at an annual rate of nearly 15 percent, with the market expected to be worth more than $17 billion by 2027.