Drive-Thru Employees Could Soon Be Working From Home Thanks To New Tech

You know that disembodied voice you're used to hearing as you order from your favorite fast food drive-thru? There may soon be a face to go with the voice. The strange part, however, is that the face will actually be nowhere near the restaurant. This tectonic shift in the way fast food drive-thrus work is being made possible by new video software from tech startup Bite Ninja, reports TODAY. The app allows for cloud labor — aka remote ninjas — to work from home, but appear on drive-thru menu screens to take orders and interact with customers. On-site restaurant staff, meanwhile, are freed from this task, and can instead concentrate on filling the orders ... and of course handing food out the window once customers pull around.

Bite Ninja was founded by Will Clem and Orin WIlson, according to Yahoo Finance, in response to labor shortages during the pandemic, when restaurants were particularly hard hit. Clem, the owner of a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, got the inspiration for Bite Ninja from personal experience, TODAY noted. He was so short-staffed one night at his restaurant, Baby Jack's, he had to take orders from home using Zoom. From necessity, a new idea was born. Bite Ninja's video software now offers creative solutions for restaurant owners facing hiring shortages, and new opportunities for workers who'd prefer to work from home.

How Bite Ninja works

"The sustaining workforce shortage, especially among the restaurant industry, has generated heightened momentum for Bite Ninja and we are rapidly deploying our Ninjas across the nation," Clem told TODAY.

The way it works is this: New freelance ninjas sign up for the platform, observes The Spoon, which trains them in the software, and manages their shifts at restaurants. The ninja's face appears to restaurant customers on the menu screen, personalizing the ordering process, and according to Clem, improving both efficiency in order taking and up-selling opportunities. For this, ninjas can earn between $10 and $20 per hour, depending upon demand, via TODAY, with 4,100 people currently signed up on the platform. Shifts are bid on, Fox Business reports, with the ninjas receiving payment through Venmo after each shift ends.

To date, Bite Ninja has raised over $4 million in seed funding, per Yahoo Finance. The big question now is whether fast food chains will embrace the new tech. So far, Bite Ninja is being used in 12 restaurants in six states, according to Clem (via TODAT), who also says talks are ongoing with up to 50 restaurant chains, including one major unnamed chain that is prepared to sign on.