There’s a new burger startup in town, but it’s not the classic brick and mortar restaurant with cashiers and cooks.
Instead, it’s Roboburger, a robot burger maker inside box.
And unlike the typical mall vending machine that dispenses prepackaged snacks and drinks, the Roboburger promises fresh and simple $7 burgers made within minutes.
“We’re not trying to do too much — just make a perfect, simple burger like what you get off your backyard barbecue,” Andy Siegel, the CMO, told Insider.
Roboburger started out as a concept inside the garage of Audley Wilson, the company’s co-founder and CEO, 17 years ago.
And now, it’s the “world’s first robot burger chef” located inside the Newport Centre mall in Jersey City, New Jersey, about a 10 minute drive from New York City.
I visited Roboburger one Wednesday afternoon in search of a filling and convenient lunch …
… and while I was wowed by the novelty kitchen concept, I thought the burger was just okay.
The Roboburger isn’t a giant robot arm that slings a spatula while it flips beef patties.
As I stood by the plug-and-play Roboburger, I noticed that it consistently drew in onlookers with its bright red exterior, the smell of cooked meat, large touchscreen, and promise of a fresh burger made by a robot.
Almost every other person walking by the Roboburger stared at the machine in passing or lingered around long enough to understand its purpose.
Think of the Roboburger as a functioning kitchen inside of a vending machine.
There’s a freezer that stores 50 beef patties, a dishwasher, and all the automated cooking systems needed to make a perfectly charred and dressed burger.
Using the touch screen, hungry customers can order a standard Roboburger with all the accouterments …
… or select their preferred condiments, which include mustard, ketchup, and melted cheese.
No matter the condiments, the burger will come out to $7.55 after tax.
The Roboburger then follows all the typical burger cooking steps.
After I ordered my burger with all the fixings, all I had to do was stand back, entertain myself with the animations on the touchscreen, and wait a few minutes.
And while I lingered around, the Roboburger was hard at work.
Its griddle system cooks both sides of the patty simultaneously, toasts the bun …
… dispenses the mustard, ketchup, and melted cheddar cheese …
… and assembles and boxes the burger, delivering a perfectly packaged burger to its hungry customer (me).
The machine, certified by the National Sanitary Foundation, then cleans its own griddle with hot high pressured water to guarantee a clean and fresh burger for every order.
The startup is also working on an app that will allow customers to pre-order Roboburgers and pick up their meals using a QR code.
As for the actual taste, Siegel was pretty spot on when he described the Roboburger as the kind of burger you’d get at a backyard barbecue.
It’s simple, piping hot, covered in warm gooey cheese, and devoid of any fresh vegetables.
“When you taste the burger, you’ll find out that as exciting as the tech is and as amazing as the convenience is, it’s a better burger,” Siegel said. “And that’s what people are gonna really know us for.”
The thin beef patty had a good char on it and the warm pool of melted cheese added some much-needed salt and moisture …
… although most of the cheese ended up on the box instead of on the hamburger patty.
The misplaced cheese, while delicious, made for a messy eating experience.
I ended up dipping my burger into the cheese puddle.
The pool of sweet Heinz ketchup and mustard added the necessary contrasting sweet and tangy notes, and the lightly toasted bun was soft but still a good vessel for a burger.
Overall, it was a perfectly average meal, maybe a bit underwhelming given its origin story.
And within this year, Roboburger will begin rolling out in cities like New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami, Siegel said.