Flytrex and Brinker International extend partnership to Texas

Diving Brief:

  • Brinker International has expanded its partnership with a drone delivery company Flytrexwhich now offers its services in GranburyTexas, outside of Dallas-Fort Worth, according to a press release sent to Restaurant Dive.
  • Drones will offer five-minute delivery of Brinker’s brands, including two virtual brands It’s Just Wings and Maggianno’s Italian Classics. Meals are delivered front and back.
  • Texas expansion follows Flytrex national debut in North Carolina in September 2020. Since then, the drone company has expanded into two additional North Carolina markets, including a delivery station in Holly Springs Towne Center, where the company delivers from the Brinker’s It’s Just Wings brand.

Overview of the dive:

The expanded partnership will support Brinker’s growing offsite business, which comprises approximately 15% of the delivery channel.

“As we continue to build awareness and grow our virtual brand, It’s Just Wings, we continue to explore and leverage technology and innovation. With a focus on customer experience and convenience – alongside our killer wings – this new outpost in partnership with Flytrex is another exciting step in the right direction,” Wade Allen, pleaseInnovation, Brinker Internationalsaid in a statement emailed to Restaurant Dive.

Brinker isn’t the only restaurant chain feeling the drone delivery space. El Pollo Loco ran a test with Flytrex last summer in Southern California. McDonald’s dabbled in the space with Uber in 2019, and Starbucks and Domino’s are also testing the service. Drone deliveries are also picking up in retail, with testing from Walmart, Kroger, UPS and Amazon underway.

Flytrex’s expansion into both a new market and with Brinker International are significant indicators of progress for the company and for drone delivery in general. This follows another major vote of confidence from the Federal Aviation Administration in January in which Flytrex was named a partner of the North Carolina Department of Transportation for its FAA Beyond program. This partnership allowed Flytrex to expand its service to 10,000 homes in the state.

Drones not only speed up these deliveries — Flytrex claims their average delivery time is 3 minutes — they require less manpower, which makes the model less expensive. A 2019 study found that automated delivery could reduce delivery costs by up to 90%, for example. Drone delivery can also open up delivery in underserved neighborhoods, according to the press release.

Operators are also likely to find the lower cost model appealing, as well as the ability to process more orders in less time. Automation also offers some relief to operators as they continue to deal with labor pressure. The hospitality industry saw a higher quit rate in February than other industries, for example, with 6% of the workforce leaving, compared to a quit rate of 2.9% across all industries. About 50% of American restaurateurs said they plan to use automation technology to help fill labor shortages over the next two to three years.

Drone delivery is still on the ground floor and some questions remain unanswered, such as its viability in dense urban environments. There are other self-contained delivery options entering the market, such as Nuro and Starship Technologies, which also save on labor costs without clogging up airspace or creating privacy concerns. The autonomous last-mile delivery market is expected to grow at a rate of 21.5% per year through 2030, according to ResearchandMarkets.com. Recent milestones and fundraising from Flytrex indicate that drones will be an integral part of this growth.

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