Amid a historic labor shortage and a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the service industry, Florida restaurateur Carlos Gazitua is thinking outside the box. He’s using robots equipped with lasers. If he can’t find employees to do the thankless job of running food and hiring someone to do it would be more expensive anyway; why not automate it?
The best part is that where a human employee would cost the employer $20-30,000 per year, the robot can do the job for roughly $12,000. But that wasn’t even the motivating factor. Gazitua truly couldn’t find anyone to hire.
“It was a crisis. We couldn’t find anyone,” he told The New York Times.
Enter Servi. The restaurant robot takes that extra work off of the waiter’s plate. It allows the human employee to focus their time and attention on tables that otherwise would have grown impatient with the service. According to The New York Times, the robot is more than capable of heavy lifting and ferrying food to and from tables.
Human Waiters More Than Happy to Work Alongside Robots in Restaurants
Many of us worked our first jobs in restaurants. It doesn’t take much prior experience to wash dishes, run food, or bus tables. The hours are generally plenty flexible. And there is plenty of room to advance up to a waiting or bartending job eventually. But don’t make the mistake of thinking the work is easy. It takes a toll on the waiters, who are often asked to pick up the slack when there are no dishwashers or food runners on hand.
However, waiters at Gazitua’s restaurant, Sergio’s, are enjoying better tips than ever. Not only are restaurant-goers happier with the extra time and attention, but the waiters are also capable of handling more tables.
“In the first two hours, the servers were amazed!” Gazitua told the news outlet.
The restaurateur was so pleased with Servi’s results he immediately put them to work in his other restaurant locations.
The Sky is the Limit for Food Service Automation
Scary as it is to think about, Servi is a relatively simple application of robots in restaurants. They are capable of doing so much more. The New York Times reports an explosion in demand for foodservice automation, leading to a boom in robotics development across the industry.
For example, the combination of artificial intelligence and robotics could effectively take humans off of fast food fryers forever. That’s good news in terms of hygiene, at least. Foodborne illness rates stand to drop the fewer humans are involved in the preparation process.
It’s a brave new world out there. Try not to freak out when a robot pulls up to your table bearing delicious gifts.