Ono Foods Co., the “full-stack food automation platform,” has signed on an industry heavy hitter to help drive new automated restaurant solutions. The company announced that Derek Pietz has joined as vice president of automation.
While he might not be a household name, Pietz was formerly the head of automation at Sweetgreen, leading the digitally focused company’s automation efforts. Before that, he founded an engineering firm that helped companies including Tesla, SpaceX and Apple, automate industrial processes. He also helped out with viral foodservice company, Café X.
Pietz said Ono’s automated efforts started with an automated food truck, but promises smoothies are just the first step.
In concept, the truck can be slinging refreshing smoothies on the beach and, if the weather turns, it can swap to soup or a warm grain-bowl concept for a little warmth on a cold day.
“We see the future of foods not being just mobile but modular,” said cofounder and CEO Stephen Klein.
He said Pietz is an ideal person to help as the company moves into more complex automation, namely a new cuisine which the company plans to launch in 2021 and more beyond.
“Derek is the ideal executive to help elevate Ono to the next level,” said Stephen Klein, co-founder and CEO of Ono Food Co. “His experience and talent leading complex automated systems for some of the world’s leading brands will be central to our mission of making healthy food accessible, and we are excited to have him on our team.”
Pietz sounds almost as eager to join the company, and said COVID-19 has hastened the desire for automated foodservice.
“In the current restaurant climate, customers are increasingly demanding convenient, contactless, and personalized healthy food at an affordable price,” said Pietz. “From what I’ve seen in the market, Ono’s platform is uniquely positioned to lead this transformation, and I’m excited to help build the future of food.”
He said his first task is to work on the automation necessary to bring the second Ono concept to life.