• Voice AI-powered virtual ordering assistants will field phone orders for Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, its parent company has announced.
  • One executive said Anthony’s has been testing AI for two years and now plans to take the system to the next level for faster service and a better customer experience.

In another example of pizza chains adopting the latest technology tools, artificial intelligence (AI) from ConverseNow will power the phone-answering systems at all 60 locations of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings.

BurgerFi International, owner of the Anthony’s brand, made the announcement on December 5, describing ConverseNow as “the leading voice AI technology platform for restaurants.” ConverseNow provides voice AI-powered virtual ordering assistants, automating the order-taking process from high-volume voice channels, such as drive-thru and phone.

Ian Baines, CEO at Burgerfi International, said Anthony’s started testing AI two years ago with different vendors. “Initially, the technology appeared somewhat inconsistent,” Baines said. “However, the longer it runs, the more responsive it becomes as the algorithms learn to react to the customer order and then upsell. With ConverseNow’s technology, Anthony’s is taking the system to the next level for faster service and an improved customer experience.”

Anthony’s off-premises orders account for nearly 50% of sales, with 15% being phone orders. In total, the restaurants receive 500,000 phone orders a year, the company said. The ConverseNow AI technology is designed to handle 100% of calls answered and allows for an expected average check increase of 10% to 12%. Additionally, guests will be able to seamlessly integrate their loyalty numbers to earn points and rewards when ordering with AI.

“Anthony’s is constantly exploring innovative strategies and new technologies to stay ahead of evolving consumer preferences as part of our commitment to providing the best guest experience,” said John Iannucci, Anthony’s chief operating officer. “Phone orders remain a strong sales driver for us, and by introducing ConverseNow’s AI systems, all orders are addressed quickly and efficiently.”

AI is quickly growing in popularity. Another pizza chain, Jet’s Pizza, headquartered in Sterling Heights, Michigan, recently announced it has used AI to field $100 million in text and digital orders since 2020. Jet’s is also using an AI-powered phone bot.

Meanwhile, Yum! Brands, which owns Pizza Hut, announced in March that it would purchase Kvantum, Inc., a company specializing in AI-based consumer insights and marketing performance analytics. The goal, Yum! Brands said, is to “apply powerful consumer insights and data analytics to drive calendar and marketing spend optimization.”

BJ’s Restaurants, a chain that offers pizzas, burgers, pastas and other dishes, has also dipped its toes in the AI pool, according to a recent Nation’s Restaurant News story. As part of an initiative to boost margins and identify efficiencies, BJ’s took a closer look at its phone lines, which stay busy managing both waitlist requests and takeout orders. The company implemented AI “to determine and communicate accurate wait times,” the NRN report states, and plans to roll it out systemwide by the end of this quarter.