UK's first robotic pizza machine launched in village outside Chichester
The UK's first robotic pizza machine has started serving customers outside a pub in West Ashling.
After weeks of testing, the Pizza Rebellion has been launched at The Richmond Arms by landlord Will Jack, and his wife Emma.
With an interactive touchscreen, customers can order a handmade pizza, between 11.30am and 8.30pm, with 'minimal' contact.
To make the system completely Covid-friendly, an app is being developed to allow orders to be placed from any location.
Will and Emma were inspired to venture into the 'unique and fun' business whilst living in France. The pair took the 'massive plunge', whilst the pub was relying on takeaway orders during lockdown.
Will, who ran pizza business Wood Fired for ten years, said he has 'looked at automation for quite a while', adding: "It's never really taken off in the UK
"We are always looking for new technology at the pub to make us better. With this lockdown, we looked into it a lot more.
"We completely, blindly decided to go for it. We bought the machine, which was manufactured in France, and had that built into a container.
"We were thinking about the style we wanted to go with and, after hundreds of hours of thought, we went with the idea of rebelling against your normal pizza takeaway, which is normally artificial and unhealthy.
"The technology is very clever. We make the pizza ourselves and the machine is a distribution unit. They are popped into a refrigeration compartment before being scanned, logged and given an expiry date by the computer.
"The cooking process takes three minutes. It's done in a jet oven and serves piping hot pizza. It's a blossoming company thought up from a Covid project."
The pizza machine, which was promoted on The One Show last week, will be temporarily based at The Richmond Arms before being moved to a more permanent location.
"This is the first of many, we are hoping," Emma said. "We want pitches for more machines and we are in talks with Bognor and Portsmouth.
"It would create more jobs as, behind the scenes, it's still a handmade product. These machines store 72 pizzas. You will need to keep filling them two to three times a day."
The flavours currently on offer are Margherita Mutiny, Pulverized Pepperoni and Beef Rib N Pickle. They can also be ordered uncooked to take away.
Emma said gluten free and vegan options are being developed.
Will said the machines give the opportunity, where the location permits, to operate 24/7 but the hours have been reduced at the pub 'to have minimal impact on neighbours'.
"We thought there was a hole in the market for something which bends the rules, a bit rebellious," he said.
"The whole interactive experience is really cool. We have taken a massive plunge into this and the response has been incredible.
"This tiny, sleepy village of West Ashling has got the first robotic pizza machine.
"If you’d like a pizza rebellion in your area please contact us."