Dishcraft Bringing Robots to Commercial Kitchens

SAN CARLOS — Restaurants may no longer need human dishwashers in the future.

Dishcraft has unveiled the first automated dishroom to transform commercial kitchens. The Dishcraft solution makes dishrooms reliable, safe, and sustainable by using robotics, process innovation, and machine learning to sort, scrub, inspect, and rack dishes.

The company has raised $25 million from venture capital firms including Baseline Ventures, First Round Capital, and Lemnos.

Dishwashing is the hardest job to fill in commercial kitchens, with the average dishwasher’s tenure spanning just over a month. Unfilled jobs result in low morale in the kitchen, as everyone from the executive chef to the server is required to clean dishes, which impacts food service.

“After learning about the problem created by a high dishwasher turnover rate, I worked in commercial dishrooms to experience their environment, culture, and operations firsthand. I saw an opportunity to solve the issues at hand through the use of robotic technology,” said Linda Pouliot, CEO and co-founder of Dishcraft. “The high employee churn is an indicator that these jobs are unpleasant and not desirable. By automating the dishroom, we are able to clean dishes shift over shift while transforming the role of the dishwasher into one that is simpler, easier, and has more growth opportunity.”

The Dishcraft solution cleans each dish individually using grey water and energy-efficient cleaning mechanisms, resulting in more sustainable operations. Each dish is inspected in a fraction of a second for remaining food residue using computer vision and machine learning to achieve a consistent level of quality unmatched in dishrooms today. The work environment created by the Dishcraft solution leads to fewer slips, better ergonomics, and no use of additional chemicals.

“One of my first jobs was as a dishwasher so I’ve seen first-hand how outdated and inefficient dishrooms are today and how important they are to the overall operations in a kitchen,” said Steve Anderson, founder of Baseline Ventures. “Dishcraft is bringing entirely new thinking, technology, and processes to tackle this problem, and it is long overdue.”

Dishcraft is led by co-founders Linda Pouliot and Paul Birkmeyer. Prior to Dishcraft, Pouliot co-founded Neato Robotics, where she helped build the company to become the world’s second-largest consumer robotic vacuum company. Birkmeyer, the company’s CTO, was previously co-founder of Dash Robotics, which focused on making low-cost, build-it-yourself, bio-inspired robots promoting STEM engagement for kids. He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley and has led projects ranging from wearable robotics to humanoid robots to autonomous motorcycle-racing robots.

“We are really excited about Dishcraft and the team behind the company,” said Rob Hayes, Partner at First Round Capital and Dishcraft board member. “Building a hardware company from the ground up is a unique challenge, and Linda and Paul bring an incredible amount of expertise and experience in both robotics and business that will take Dishcraft far.”