A pizzeria owner in Bristol, England has installed an outdoors vending machine—reportedly the first in Great Britain—to boost sales during the pandemic.
Sina Kiaei, owner of Pizza Bella, told Bristol Live that he ordered the machine from France. “I was just going through thinking about how to somehow become a drive-through, but that’s not possible,” he said in the interview. “We’re on a main road.”
Even better, the vending machine allows him to sell pizzas around the clock. “It’s been open since Monday, and already everyone is loving it,” he said in the article, which posted on Thursday, November 19. “It’s great to see that people are using the machine after midnight—that’s long after we’ve closed for the night.”
The Pizza Bella staff prepare and par-bake the pizzas, which are then stored in a refrigerated section of the machine. The machine is situated outside the pizzeria, where customers can place and pay for their orders using a touchscreen. It has two ovens and can bake two pizzas at once.
When an order is placed, the machine bakes the pizza in three minutes, boxes it and ejects it through a slot. Meanwhile, orders are tracked by an app, so the staff knows when the machine is running low. The computer system can also track how long a pizza has been stored without being sold, ensuring that the machine won’t cook any pizza that has been in there longer than 48 hours.
“We were shut down for two months in the first lockdown, and I had a lot of time to think about how to adapt to the changing times,” Kiaei told Bristol Live.
“With the whole COVID-19 situation, it’s helpful … to have this facility for people who are not comfortable going into shops or takeaways,” he added. “Because we make all the pizzas during the day, it means we can have vegan options and gluten-free options, which are more of a challenge to do properly during busy times.”