AI In Action: Taco John’s Broadens AI Use

This year, the chain will double down on the tech use—and then some.

724 AI taco johns drive thru
Taco John’s says it has seen “very positive” preliminary test results with its AI voice assistant. Courtesy of Taco John's.

Another AI pilot is spreading its wings.

Taco John’s, a nearly 400-unit QSR, has been testing voice AI in the drive-thru of one of its Minnesota restaurants since April. In June, it announced it would add the tech to a second location, in Wyoming, by this August. After completing the pilot phase, Taco John’s says it intends to roll out voice AI at its franchised locations this year.

The technology will reduce staff’s order-taking labor and suggest customized upsells, notes a release, and the AI-taken orders show up in real-time on kitchen screens.

“Preliminary test results have been very positive,” says Ryan Baune, vice president for technology at Taco John’s. “We are seeing improvements around speed of service, order accuracy, and an increase in average ticket size primarily driven by upsell attachment.”

The expansion aims to optimize the chain’s operations, revenue and guest experience.

Meanwhile, another operator is headed in the opposite direction. Multiple sources report that McDonald’s will end its multiunit trial of AI at the drive-thru by the end of July. McDonald’s began testing the tech in 2021, using a different partner than the one being used by Taco John’s.

Editor’s note: This story serves as part of a series listing ways operators are using artificial intelligence. In May, the column covered Boogie Lab’s use of artificial intelligence technology in its sourdough fermentation process.


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