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Robots may take and serve your food order, but won't make it anytime soon, ex-Domino's CEO says

Key Points
  • Technology will keep changing how customers place restaurant orders, but it won't eliminate the workers making the food, says former Domino's Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle.
  • "People want food to be handmade," he argues.
  • Doyle has partnered with The Carlyle Group, with the goal of buying existing direct-to-customer firms that could be transformed through tech.
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The Carlyle Group partners with former Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle

Self-ordering kiosks in restaurants are probably here to stay, but that doesn't mean technology also will replace the workers who make your food, former Domino's Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle told CNBC on Wednesday.

"People want food to be handmade," Doyle said on "Squawk on the Street," his first interview since departing Domino's in June 2018. "Replacing people making food is the least interesting, but clearly how they're ordering and how you're getting the food to them, and how you're marketing to them, are huge opportunities."

Doyle's interview comes on the same day the 56-year-old announced he was forming a partnership with The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm with $233 billion of assets under management. Doyle and Carlyle will look to acquire existing companies that have an opportunity to be transformed through technology.

The kinds of companies would need to have direct relationships with customers, possibly in the restaurant business, health care or hospitality, Doyle said, adding that acquisitions may reach up to $10 billion.

Doyle led Domino's for nearly a decade, during which he oversaw a significant turnaround of the pizza chain through improving the food's taste and heavily investing in technology. Domino's shares traded below $8 in December 2009, just before Doyle became CEO. On Jan. 9, 2018, when Doyle's departure was announced, Domino's closed at $206.71.

The use of technology to upend the restaurant industry's workforce in not new, but it continues to be an area of focus due to high turnover and the burdensome costs associated with it.

Doyle said that Domino's is considering many ways technology could improve its business, but felt that automating the food-making process wasn't appetizing to customers.

But, in addition to the continued adoption of online ordering and self-service kiosks in stores, Doyle said technology may still further upend the restaurant industry through changing how food is served to customers. While he was CEO, Domino's delivered the world's first pizza by drone and also partnered with Ford to deliver pizzas in self-driving cars.

The announcement of Doyle's partnership with Carlyle ends speculation about where the well-respected executive would end up. He was, at one time, rumored to be under consideration to become Chipotle Mexican Grill's next CEO.

On Wednesday, Doyle offered praise of Chipotle's increasing focus in technology, but said he thought Starbuck's was the industry leader in in-store technology.

"In terms of how they're using technology, I think Chipotle is investing and they're working to get caught up on that, but up until now, I'd give Starbucks the edge on that," Doyle said.