The restaurant industry, like many others, has been plagued by labor shortages. The issue has put an enormous amount of pressure on frontline workers and managers. To ease the problem, the sector is starting to turn to remote workers. Whoever thought this was possible in a business where to face-to-face contact is essential? One company came up with an idea.

Bite Ninja offers a virtual workforce to restaurants helping them staff their drive-thrus and front counters. The “ninjas” work from a remote location and appear on-screen to customers at menu boards.

Bite Ninja was founded one night when co-founder Will Clem decided to use his laptop to take orders for his restaurant from home and nobody noticed he wasn’t actually in the kitchen. The company on Wednesday acquired Zenu.

Zenu provides software to restaurants such as digital menus, online ordering and mobile payments. “We foresaw a labor crunch in the restaurant industry approaching and were subsequently working on the same problem of how to help restaurants digitalize and get more efficient, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit this really accelerated this need and it was perfect timing,” says Jared Fullwiler, co-founder of Zenu. 

The pandemic has accelerated demand for restaurant technologies such as online ordering and delivery. But remote workers? That’s a new one and I’m curious if this trend takes off through M&A.

Demitri Diakantonis