Imagine going to a vending machine, but when you arrive it’s loaded with pizza instead of candy.
A local pizza spot in Southfield has done just that. The ZaBot Pizza Machine is located in the parking lot of Capri Pizza at 13 Mile and Greenfield. It looks like some sort of ATM machine, but instead of dishing out cash, it dishes out real, hot pizzas.
ZaBot can create all kinds of pies.
“It only takes three minutes for the machine to create your pizza,” says Jim Cupp, general manager of Capri Pizza. “Everything that is on the pizza is the same as the pizza inside of Capri Pizza, but the only difference is that the dough is made fresh inside of our restaurant and this is pre-baked pizza dough out here.”
He adds, “We had to do a lot of testing on the pizza to make sure people were going to be happy.”
There are no lines to wait in, or a waiter to take your order — just a red robot. ZaBot can cook up to two pizzas at a time, and customers can actually smell a whiff of the pie cooking inside of the machine while they are waiting for it to dispense.
The menu features standard pizzas like meat lover’s and veggie, and also offers specialty items, like a Detroit coney pizza and a vegetarian bean burrito pizza. It also sells garlic cheese sticks with garlic butter, various warm-soft cookies, and hot soft pretzels with cheese sauce. Prices range from $8 to $12.
Cupp says ZaBot is durably constructed to withstand weather and traffic accidents. It is also open 24 hours and seven days a week for those late-night munchie runs.
Southfield is the first city to launch a ZaBot.
“We are the first to do a ZaBot in Michigan,” Cupp says. “The owners actually got the idea from a place in Germany, I believe, and bought ZaBot over here.”
The process to order is simple. Customers can place their order using an interactive touchscreen that pulls up the menu items. Next, customers insert their credit card, since the machine is cashless. Once the payment is processed, the pizza robot will start cooking the order.
By the time customers are finished being amazed by the fact that a robot is making their pizza, the order is ready and dispensed from the machine.
There’s perhaps no need to worry about ZaBot putting your local pizza place out of business any time soon. Its pizza isn’t cut when it comes out of the machine, so customers should grab a plastic knife from the basket in front of ZaBot before leaving.
In order to keep the pizza robot loaded with fresh items, Capri Pizza workers walk across the parking lot from the restaurant to fill the machine’s refrigerator with everything from fresh pizza ingredients to pizza boxes. The machine can store up to 96 pizzas.
Once the workers load the items in the back of the machine, it takes a few minutes for the pizza machine to play catch up and start taking orders again.
With new technology you always find challenges along the way, Cupp says.
“We had gone through 60 different crust styles to figure out which one would cook the best in here,” he says. “We finally figured it out and so far, everything is working out.”
Cupp says that ZaBot has been open for about a week and has already served dinner to hundreds of families.
“We have been seeing lots of people come to the machine to try out the pizza,” he says. “I like it, too. My favorite is really the dessert items like the cookies. Those cookies are so good.”
Susan Weisberg and her daughter, Esther, 8, of Birmingham, have enjoyed eating from the pizza robot since it opened. They were thrilled Friday night to taste the pizza once again.
“The pizza is so delicious, like it’s really good pizza,” says Weisberg. “We have been here three times and we always get the veggie pizza. The veggie pizza is amazing. It comes out nice and hot. It’s really cool, because it’s a robot making your pizza.”
Weisberg says the ordering process is so easy, that her daughter understands how to place an order on her own.
“I really like pizza robot,” Esther giggles. “It’s so fun coming here.”
The pizza machines also allow customers to capture their experience by pressing a video recorded button on the machine that provides feedback to ZaBot. They are encouraged to use the hashtag #LoveMyZaBot and share their experience.
Cupp says within the next few months there will be a mobile app, so customers can place their orders online and pick it up from ZaBot. The company also has plans to open more ZaBots across the state.
“We just want to give our customers more options,” he says. “That is what this is all about.”
The ZaBot Pizza Machine is located at 30735 Greenfield Rd., Southfield; 248-647-770; capripizzadetroit.com/zabot.
Metro Detroit has a robot that makes pizzas 24/7. ZaBot is located at Capri Pizza at 13 Mile and Greenfield in Southfield.♬ original sound - Detroit Metro Times