A fresh, healthy meal out of a vending machine is about to become a reality in Houston. Salad-making robots are headed this way, thanks to a partnership between Salad Station and Houston-based RoboFresh. The plan is to bring 100 of the Chowbotics Inc.’s Sally machines to Houston in the next three years, starting with Texas Medical Center.
“It’s a spot that makes sense. A lot of nurses and doctors don’t have long lunch breaks and patients and their families don’t want to leave the hospital. This gives them a healthy option just down the hallway,” RoboFresh LLC CEO Joe Benson told Eater.
It sounds like there are more options here than a Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machine: for less than $9, diners will look at a touch screen and choose between 22 different ingredients like chicken, ham, vegetables, and a base lettuce for a 32-ounce portion of salads. “The robot actually has a wheel of these fresh prepared canisters of food,” Benson explains, saying that the ingredients are stored separately and the wheel rotates to deposit each chosen ingredient in the salad. He notes that everything is prepped in a commissary kitchen and delivered fresh daily.
These machines are already in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast. The goal is to have 10 operational by the first of the year in Houston, then expand to 30 in the first 12 months, and eventually grow to 100 within three years.
Besides the medical center, locations like Galleria and throughout downtown Houston are in the works, with plans to install them in spots like apartment buildings, colleges, and universities — free of charge to the building operators. Benson and Salad Station Head of Franchise Development John Mike Heroman say that they’re still on the hunt for locations, if any readers want a salad-making robot at their workplace.