Jon Taffer Thinks We'll See More Robot Bartenders Soon - Exclusive

As a bar and restaurant expert, "Bar Rescue" host Jon Taffer has to stay acquainted with where the bar industry is going. Struggling pub owners all over the country trust him to come in and redesign their spaces, retrain their employees, and save their businesses from failing. Taffer must know what works for bars now and what will work in the near future.

He believes strongly that the element of human connection will be important in the service industry as long as bars exist. As Taffer said in an exclusive interview with Mashed, "The future of the bar industry is still all about people." In his own restaurant chain, Taffer's Tavern, he strives to create a person-focused experience because he thinks it's good for business. "If there's a place you go to and there's a server or bartender or somebody that you connect with, you're going to go back there."

Despite Taffer's suspicion about adding much mechanization to the nightlife business, he does think that technology will be more involved in all facets of bars and restaurants very soon. He explained why you shouldn't be surprised to see more robot bartenders (and grill cooks and pizzaiolos) in the near future.

A variety of factors are pushing mechanization

It has been very difficult for hospitality businesses to find employees since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — so enter automation. As Jon Taffer put it, "When we can't find people, we have to invent machines or something to replace that person because the function still has to happen."

The technology for replacing human service industry workers has gotten better in recent years. Taffer said, "About five years ago, there were three robotic booths at this major restaurant convention. Today, there are about 120 robotic booths at the restaurant convention." What these robots can accomplish is impressive: "When you look at the grilling systems, the cooking systems, the robotic arms that move and turn and drop and flip, it's a remarkable time in the industry."

In addition to the more complex technologies like robotic cooks and bartenders, Taffer expects to see an increase in tablet-based ordering systems replacing human front-of-house employees. However, he believes that the best way forward is to balance the tech with a human touch. At Taffer's Tavern, he uses new technology in the kitchen to cut back on human labor, but you won't find any tablets or robots pouring drinks out in the dining room: "You're not going to get connectivity out of a tablet."

The new season of "Bar Rescue" airs on Paramount Network and Paramount+ on Sundays. You can also visit Taffer's Tavern locations in Georgia, Massachusetts, and D.C.