A new company in Mountain View is looking to disrupt the pizza delivery universe dominated by Domino's and Papa John's by (almost) fully automating the pizza-making and cooking process through robotics. Bloomberg takes us inside Zume Pizza which for artisan pizzaiolos like Una Pizza Napoletana's Anthony Mangieri is probably the stuff of nightmares which just began delivering pizzas in the Mountain View and Palo Alto vicinity in the last month.
The process does involve some humans people actually make and spin out the dough, and apply the cheese and toppings along an assembly line but a robot squirts out and spreads out the sauce, and another robot gently lifts the pizza off the assembly line and puts it in the oven.
Speaking the sort of grand terms that founders tend to speak in, Zume's co-founder and executive chairman Alex Garden says, "We are going to be the Amazon of food."
The Verge says "Zume is the perfect amalgamation of modern Silicon Valley dreams. It's got a dash of the on-demand economy, a sprinkling of automation, and a thick layer of pizza-based disruption." And they remind us that there's already another pizza delivery app in SF which used to be called Pi and is now called Pythagoras.
Standing in the immediate way of Zume's lofty goals is trying to get health department approval for their pizza-cooking truck the ultimate goal, says Garden, is to deliver the freshest pizza possible by actually finishing the cooking process aboard a custom truck equipped with 56 onboard pizza ovens, so each delivery customer receives a pizza essentially fresh out of the oven.
This could pose a problem, approvals-wise, even if they do decide to let this fly in Santa Clara County as Bloomberg notes, "traditional food trucks generally aren't allowed to cook food while in motion."
Another issue, of course, will be quality control with the automated process. Zume's Yelp reviews are pretty mixed thus far, with many of the gushing five-star reviews VERY LIKELY to be coming from friends of the company. There are a number of one-star reviews that say things like, "I got my pizza for free, but I still regret eating it... Much worse than frozen pizza." And, "It was somehow simultaneously flavorless and yet also sickening."
Also, from Jessica M. in Burlingame, "This pizza made me seriously sick and I had to throw it away. The dough wasn't cooked all the way and even though normally I don't mind greasy pizza, ours was so bad that now my entire house smells like grease and we've had to leave all the windows open to try to get rid of it."
More like bowel disruption than pizza disruption, amirite?