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Jamba Expands Robotic Smoothie Kiosk to Second Location

Specialty Food Association

Jamba is expanding its robotic smoothie station to additional locations after the first test location opened late last year inside a Walmart in Dixon, California.

A second unit of the Jamba by Blendid concept, featuring a robotic arm that makes smoothies to order, recently opened as a freestanding kiosk in the Stonewood Center, a shopping mall in Downey, California. Blendid, which also has smoothie kiosks under its own brand at Sonoma State University and at another California Walmart, uses a proprietary, autonomous system called foodOS that can make a smoothie in under three minutes and can make up to nine orders at once.

Blendid’s rollout follows the launch in recent years of other robotic foodservice operations, including the Spyce stir-fry concept in the Boston area and the CafeX coffee kiosks at the San Francisco and San Jose International airports.

Geoff Henry, president of Atlanta-based Jamba, said the Jamba by Blendid concept has so far been a success. The biggest challenge Jamba has encountered, he said, has been explaining the concept to new customers when there are no employees present.

“It often takes guests a couple times seeing it before they are willing to try it,” he told SFA News Daily. “However, once we convert a guest, they love it, so we see this as a short-term learning curve situation.”

Covahne Michaels, vice president of marketing at Blendid, agreed that the Jamba by Blendid concept has been a success.

The Jamba by Blendid locations are “unique to Jamba’s needs,” she said, noting that the recipes are “inspired by familiar recipes found at Jamba” and include some of the same proprietary Jamba Boosts.

Michaels and Henry both said that many first-time customers prefer to order from the tablets that are provided on the counter, rather than from their mobile phones.

“They also like to watch the entire process,” Henry said. “It’s especially a big hit with kids and families.”

He said customers sometimes order ahead from their phones and then pick up their smoothie after they finish their shopping.

Jamba also partnered with Blendid to create a new smoothie recipe based on customer orders at the Dixon Walmart location, using artificial intelligence to determine the optimal combination of ingredients based on order history. That recipe—called—has become the No. 2 seller at that location, Henry said.

The robotic kiosk inside Walmart has also been able to operate later into the evening than a typical Jamba location, he said, noting that most Jamba locations close by 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.

“More than 20 percent of the kiosk sales have been coming after 7 p.m., as the Walmart is open most days until midnight,” Henry said.

Customer feedback has been positive he said, citing the theatricality of having a smoothie prepared by robotic arms. Feedback has also been positive about the ease of ordering, the convenience and the contactless process, he added.

Jamba is evaluating a variety of venues for further expansion, including gyms, hospitals, airports, college campuses, and others.

“Jamba by Blendid provides an opportunity for our local franchisees to make smoothies more accessible to Jamba fans, while leveraging the latest in technology to deliver contactless food,” said Henry.

Michaels said Blendid has hopes of adding thousands of locations in the U.S. and overseas, and leveraging the foodOS to automate a variety of cuisines.

Related: Automated Pizza Kitchens Head to Airports; Shake Shack Adds Black Truffle Burgers, Fries.