In a year that brought a lot of bad news for restaurants, there were also a lot of chances to innovate with technology, from ghost kitchens to artificial intelligence. Nation’s Restaurant News followed every move with its regular Tech Tracker column.
Ghost kitchens were a trend even before the coronavirus pandemic, with Saladworks debuting its first in January in Chicago. In February and March, McDonald’s, Dunkin’, Panda Express and Inspire Brands all made delivery and off-premise moves, which became a necessity not long after.
As restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms, new trends emerged, such as technology companies providing relief for restaurants. Instagram and ChowNow launched free online ordering for restaurants in April, and OpenTable and Resy offered reservation fee relief as restaurants reopened with limited seating in May.
By June, restaurants had turned their technology efforts to safety,…