Most restaurant operators don’t quite know what to think about AI yet, but the majority will start using it sooner or later, according to a new industry study from, an AI-powered phone answering platform.

Even so, restaurateurs have some concerns.

The survey, titled “AI in the Restaurant Industry,” gathered insights from restaurant owners, general managers and C-suite executives. It sheds light on the industry’s readiness to embrace AI technology in the face of mounting challenges such as rising costs, labor issues and operational complexities.

Related: How the leading pizza chains are using AI to sell more pizza

According to the study, 54% of restaurant operators think AI will “positively impact restaurants.” However, less than one-third (27.6%) currently use AI in their operations.

That’s likely to change, though, with 71.6% of the operators surveyed saying they plan to adopt AI soon, and nearly 94% saying AI will be necessary to stay competitive.

Not everyone is fully sold on AI, however. “When asked how AI will impact the restaurant industry, 54% of participants had a somewhat (30.4%) or highly positive (23.6%) outlook,” the report states. “On the other end, 46% either had a neutral or unfavorable view of the impact of AI. While most view AI positively, it’s worth noting that many still hesitate about this technology for restaurants. This is an intriguing contradiction to keep in mind throughout the study.”

So what worries restaurateurs the most when it comes to implementing AI? The lack of human touch in service, said 25.1% of those surveyed. Meanwhile, 19.6% said they were concerned about the cost of implementation. Only 16.8% said they were worried about AI replacing human employees and killing restaurant jobs.

On the plus side, 46% of restaurateurs said they think AI can improve the guest experience. About 45% think their customers would respond positively to AI-driven interactions like voice bots and chatbots.

The study also found:

  • 31% think AI has the potential to improve operational efficiency for restaurants.
  • 16.3% believe AI can increase order-taking and food delivery accuracy.
  • 15% see it as a tool to manage costs.
  • 14.4% believe it can enhance customer service.
  • 2.6% don’t think AI can be helpful at all.

Could AI be used as a marketing tool? Most restaurant operators don’t see it that way. Just under 10% said they think AI can optimize marketing strategies, making that the least perceived benefit of AI.

Regardless of the restaurant industry’s concerns, the report concludes, “AI is no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’”

“Restaurant industry professionals are increasingly recognizing the transformative potential of AI technology, and the overwhelming sentiment in favor of AI adoption underscores its importance for enhancing operational efficiency, reducing costs and providing great customer experiences,” said Alex Sambvani, founder and CEO of “Running a restaurant isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes guts to get up and running and a lot of business know-how to thrive. AI is the tool that can help businesses grow and it is clearly here to stay.”

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