This Florida Restaurant's Robot Is Making A Big Difference For Employees

In the face of unprecedented restaurant labor shortages, some establishments are turning to a futuristic form of technology that aims to alleviate the workload of servers: robots. The New York Times revealed how hospitality-oriented robots are on the rise among frustrated restaurateurs and business owners struggling to find workers during the pandemic. "The leisure and hospitality industry saw a 50 percent drop in employment in 2020," Jaime Richardson, vice president of marketing at White Castle, told the publication. "That is far and away the worst shock to the industry on record, dating back to the Great Depression."

For Carlos Gazitua, owner and CEO of the Florida-based Sergio's Restaurant chain, it was nearly impossible to find workers to fill job vacancies after relaxed COVID-19 restrictions allowed Florida restaurants to re-open indoor dining. The solution to his staff scarcity came in the form of Servi, a food service robot developed by Bear Robotics and SoftBank Robotics Group. Bear Robotics co-founder and CEO Juan Higueros said demand for the robot has surged among restaurants, casinos, and other locations with overwhelmed staff.

Robots can lower stress and raise tips

The Servi robot operates in modes including drink serving, food running, and bussing, allowing business owners "to maximize their operating efficiency, while also elevating service quality to customers," says SoftBank Robotics. At Gazitua's restaurant, the Servi carries plates from the kitchen to the dining room, where they are picked up by servers who give them to customers, according to The New York Times. The robots have lasor sensors and cameras that allow them to move through spaces safely.

In addition to providing some extra manpower around the restaurant, the Servi robots have actually helped Gazitua's human servers get better tips. His waitstaff now has more time to interact with customers and serve more tables without the stress of hustling in and out of the kitchen. After testing the device in one of his chain's locations, Gazitua ordered Servis for all five of Sergios' full-service locations. Each robot operates at a fee of $999 per month.

As a whole, the field of hospitality robots has picked up major speed in recent years, with robotics companies like SoftBank, Miso Robotics, Peanut Robotics, and Knightscope all experiencing spikes in orders of their various service bots, reports the Times. And with labor shortages continuing to sweep the country, the future of the restaurant industry just might lie in the hands of machines.