Editor’s Note: In September we announced that Skift was expanding into food and drink with the addition of the Chefs+Tech weekly newsletter.

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We see this as a natural expansion of the Skift umbrella, bringing the big picture view on the future of dining out, being fanatically focused on the guest experience, and at the intersection of marketing and tech.

You can find the archives here, read the latest issue below, and subscribe here:

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Please Don’t Forget to Tip Your Robot

We all knew the moment was coming — who knew it would be “Just Eat” to make the first self-driving delivery? A six-wheeled robot (name TBD) rolled its way through the streets of Greenwich, England delivering an order from Taksim Meze, a local Turkish joint. Taking bets on exactly what was inside the belly of the machine… kofte? Baklava?

We may never know. Intriguing though that the first company to roll the old non-human deliverer down the block was located in London, despite rapid food delivery progress in U.S. cities like SF (tech Mecca) and NY. Not gonna lie, the question that’s always bugged me is just how to protect these guys against, oh I don’t know, vandalism, food bandits, traffic collision, aggressive dogs, running over a baby. The liability for these companies entering the robo-delivery market — and there are many — seems immense. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter if the donuts are hot when someone gets hurt. The big question also becomes: how quickly will be before Amazon takes a big bite out of that market?

Just Take What You Want, We Have an Algorithm for That

Speaking of which… okay, so we know this bit isn’t overtly chefy but we’d be remiss not to report on the upcoming launch of Amazon Go, the new “Just Walk Out Technology” from the retail behemoth in Seattle. It is exactly what it sounds like: open the app, go to the store, grab what you want, computer vision/deep learning algorithms/some other crazy stuff knows you put it in your cart, and stroll right on out, receive Amazon receipt. Done. As Techcrunch suggests at the end of their piece, history suggests this could be the start of something big, despite the fact that doors are only open to Amazon employees in Seattle at present. But removing humans from our day-to-day seems to be a theme these days, because God forbid we have to interact with someone while grocery shopping, going through a toll, getting dinner delivered… human interaction is so 2016. Let’s get back to our future.

“I’ll Take a Large Pizza With a Double Serving of Logistics and Analytics”

While “innovation’s” one of those buzzwords these days that gets liberally chucked out with little regard for just what is innovating and what’s noise, one not-such example is waiting on our doorsteps: Dominos. From the butt of late night talk show jokes to a hot commodity on public markets, the pizza that just appears appears to have become a lot more popular these days. Here’s why, according to the Harvard Business Review. Who doesn’t love a good tale of reinvention, you know?

Accord to HBR, things at Domino began falling into place (he he he) with the new CEO, Patrick Doyle, who knew to emphasize that the company was not just in the pizza-making business, but rather the pizza-delivery business: “We are as much a tech company as we are a pizza company,” he told his software and analytics heavy audience of 800 responsible for in-house technology that has changed the way customers order (from the Domino’s app to texting by emoji.) And not-so-fast to rush to the obvious “well, they certainly ain’t in the good pizza-making business either!” as Doyle’s second focus was to tackle the infamously bad product the company offered alongside similarly cardboard brand image. Authentic Neopolitan and Roman-style wood-fired pizza have popped up all over this country, making it very difficult for the flavorless delivery stuff to make it in a newly taste-forward world. Change is afloat on that front these days at Domino’s, too. Perhaps it’s time we download and give it a whirl…

Worth noting: in the time it took me to craft this write up, my husband received a promotional email from Domino’s… coincidence? I think not.

Spend Some Time With the Family 

Back on planet earth with real humans doing humane things, you can count on Danny Meyer to raise the bar again for the industry with another important step in the direction of ethical employment practices. Now, all employees of Union Square Hospitality Group will be eligible for paid parental leave — while it’s hard to believe that’s not the case at most restaurant groups, it isn’t. So hats off again to USQ for leading the pack on this one. It’s about time the industry acknowledged that you can’t work the line and nurse a baby at the same time.

Digestifs: 

  • A restaurant kitchen without a restaurant — more on Maple.
  • Got a food tech idea? Think you’re the next Maple? Enter the Start Up Alley competition at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show.
  • Pizza ATM, only a matter of time before it’s in the Facebook cafeteria
  • Top Chef is back and a grateful nation thanks Tom Colicchio… once again.
  • The new age of sous vide is here to stay. Here’s how the gadgets measure up, so you do try this at home this Christmas.
  • Bad newz for the restaurant business. Time to dine out more, people.
Photo Credit: A worker prepares boxes at a Domino's pizza restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria. The company's CEO is obsessed with logistics first. Sunday Alamba / Associated Press