Picnic, which makes pizza assembly robots, announced today that is has raised a $16.3 million Series A round of funding. The new round was led by Thursday Ventures, with participation from existing investors Creative Ventures, Flying Fish Partners and Vulcan Capital (and includes the $3M bridge funding from October of last year). This brings the total amount of funding raised by Picnic to $34.2 million. At the same time, Picnic also announced new strategic partnerships with with food service industry company Orion Land Mark, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, National Service Cooperative and Baseline Hardware Financing.
Seattle, Washington-based Picnic makes modular pizza assembly robots capable of topping hundreds of pizzas an hour. These automated machines can be placed in a row, with each one dispensing their own ingredients. Pizza crusts are place on a conveyor belt, which runs under the dispensers which dish out the proper amounts of sauce, cheese and other toppings. Picnic announced its second generation robot in October of last year, which featured a switch to transparent walls and containers so operators could see in real time when toppings need to be refilled.
Interest in food robots and automation has accelerated thanks largely to the pandemic. Not only can robots work 24 hours a day and not call in sick, they also reduce human contact with food and create more social distancing in kitchens. But Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic, told me by phone last week that the pandemic has ushered in entirely new thinking about foodservice. “What we really see as we come out of the pandemic is the foodserice industry has been reimagined,” Wood said. “It’s divorced the idea that the kitchen has to be attached to a dining room.”
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