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Monthly AI Update: Text To Image Generators

Monthly AI Update: Text To Image Generators

Nate Lozier

Nate Lozier

Text-to-image AI tools have the potential to fast-track many of your restaurants visual needs without compromising quality.

The AI spring continues to push forward at full speed, with exciting new tools being introduced every month. While ChatGPT is the most widely used of these platforms, another OpenAI offering is making its mark by showing just how powerful it can be: DALL-E.

DALL-E is a text to image generator that allows users to input a series of text prompts to create artificially-generated images. While the most popular in its class, DALL-E is just one of an increasing number of image generators with similar capabilities, most of which are free to use. The applications for these tools appear to be endless for any industry that requires visual content, and that includes restaurants. Here are just some of the ways restaurant operators are using AI image generators to improve their daily operations.

Menu Item Images

Whether or not your restaurant uses images of your dishes on your menu, DALL-E and its competitors can create a variety of enticing visuals that can be used in a number of places. These artificially-created pictures can be used on social media, company websites, third-party delivery menus, or anywhere you have a need to entice customers with some mouthwatering food shots.

The other benefit is in the versatility and wide range of images that can be created. If you’re hosting a holiday themed event, for example, prompt DALL-E to create your signature dish, or a seasonal special, in front of a Christmas tree or fireplace. Promote your bar’s Halloween party by requesting a picture of laughing customers in costume as they clink glasses. Ask the tool for images of restaurant customers in football jerseys cheering on the game for your Super Bowl event. There is truly no limit to the type of highly customizable images you can create with text-to-image AI generators.

Menu Item Updates

A restaurant menu is always evolving. When adding a new dish to your menu, image generators provide a quick, easy way to get a visual of your new creation. While your AI image obviously wont be of your actual creation, image generators can be surprisingly accurate in recreating something similar, especially when prompted correctly. This is a huge benefit for operators who don’t have the budget for professional photography.

It’s also useful when you need new item shots quickly, taking just a few minutes to enter prompts and get results. Once you’re satisfied with your images, you can easily add them to your website or third-party delivery apps to make your menu more attractive.

Image generators can also be used as a part of your creative process when experimenting with new recipes, particularly for their presentation. You may already have a vision for what your new culinary creation will look like, but running the menu item, ingredients, and cuisine style through an image generator can give you ideas on the ways to plate your new dish.

Israel chef Tom Aviv had this very idea when developing a family recipe for chocolate moose at his restaurant, Branja Miami. Aviv and his sister ran their recipe through DALL-E and were impressed with the visual variations it gave them, “elevating it to another level”.

Social Media Marketing

Social media presence has become an essential part of any restaurant’s marketing plan, and eye-catching content is a crucial part of its success. Text-to-image generative AI allows restaurant operators to convert their textual promotions, specials, or event announcements into visually appealing images. This not only grabs the audience’s attention but also maintains a consistent and professional visual identity for the restaurant across various online platforms.

These image generators can be used together with AI chatbots like ChatGPT, which can create the written message component of social media posts. Together, they can significantly reduce the amount of time needed to produce high-quality social posts to promote your restaurant. That said, human review is an important part of the process when using AI tools. While they create high-quality content and stunning images, be sure to review your text and images before sharing with your followers.

In the case of ChatGPT, you’ll need to edit the response in some places where the chatbot went astray. In the case of text-to-image generators, scan the image for inaccuracies. Many of these tools have difficultly reproducing accurate depictions of elements like human fingers. 

Staff Training and Communication

Efficient communication among restaurant staff is vital for smooth operations. Text-to-image generative AI can assist in creating visually instructive materials for staff training, from new menu item presentations to standard operating procedures. This visual approach can enhance comprehension and retention, ensuring that staff members are well-equipped to deliver an exceptional dining experience.

The same can be said for new employees. Images are usually included in employee handbooks given out when onboarding new staff. Restaurants also often use diagrams for clear inventory management practices and food prep. No two restaurants have the same layout or process, and image generators can help create custom visuals that make training easier.

Limitations

While image generators do have many useful applications, there are some situations where these tools aren’t the answer. In many instances, operators still opt for photography, which has certain advantages. For example, an AI image will never be a perfect recreate your dish, nor will include the exact layout and decor of your restaurant in the background. If you’re using headshots, to highlight your head chef for example, AI generators are obviously not the way to go.

Best Practices & Effective Prompts

While text-to-image generators are incredibly powerful, they can also cause some frustration, especially when first learning to use them. There’s a learning cure to figuring out how to write accurate prompts – written directions that tell the AI what you want – in order to return quality images. The first images you create likely wont be useable for your website or menu, but you can easily edit and refine your prompts to get better responses. Here are a few best practices when writing AI prompts for your restaurant’s visual content:

GUIDE

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Wrapping It Up

AI continues to fundamentally change the way many businesses operate, and restaurants are no exception. Chatbots and text-to-image generators are only two such tools, while a host of other AI features are making improvements to the areas of store operations and restaurant accounting. Microsoft CoPilot, for example, has allowed for quicker analysis of financial documents, allowing restaurant accountants to find outliers or potential fraud.

It’s important to remember that these tools are in their infancy. Text-to-image generators are constantly making improvements that will make for better images with greater customization. Early this week, OpenAI also announced its newest AI infrastructure, a text-to-video generator called Sora. Like ChatGPT and DALL-E, Sora is expected to have many uses in the restaurant industry, like creating video content of meal preparation, enticing videos of ingredient sourcing, and other video content that restaurant operators can leverage on their websites and social media.

While there’s no shortage of tools, there is a shortage of time to use them, especially for restaurant managers who have more than enough on their plate. The best way to approach the AI revolution is to start small and not be overwhelmed. One place to start is creating some basic menu images to upload to your delivery app menu. As you start to see an impact on orders, dive into some of the other areas these tools can help improve and grow your business.

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