To survive in the cut-throat restaurant industry, restaurant owners need to constantly balance innovation and profit. While there are those who would regularly change their menu to keep customers on their toes and switch suppliers to cut down on costs, some would hire robots.
Taco Borga, a co-owner of Latin American restaurant “La Duni” on McKinney Avenue, has hired three robots to work in front of the house. These robots are namely Alexcita, Panchita, and Coqueta — programmed to be servers, runners, cleaners, and hosts with the added bonus of becoming a restaurant attraction for both locals and tourists. Since the decision to employ these robots, La Duni was able to cut down on costs for labor. Instead of Borga paying a full-time employee $10 a day each, a single robot would only cost him around $8 to $10 a day.
By hiring these robots, Taco Borga also cut down the hours spent in training a full-time employee by 40-80 times as a robot can be programmed or “trained” in just an hour. Aside from being cost-efficient, Borga shares that the robots have also become an attraction for customers noting that a mother once reached out on social media asking when the robots will be working so she can bring her kids with her. This in effect becomes added revenue and foot traffic for La Duni.
A dim sum restaurant in Addison, “Bushi Bushi”, is also revolutionizing the dining experience of their customers by hiring robots to deliver food and orders fresh from the kitchen and straight to their tables as soon as it’s ready. Aside from the swift service preventing any hungry customers from storming out or complaining about the wait, the robots also serve as entertainment that can lead to word of mouth.
Layered, another restaurant in McKinney, hired a robot as its host. While thinking of something new and creative to add to the restaurant, owner Nir Sela went back to his background in the technology sector and purchased an autonomous delivery robot called BellaBot. By programming the BellaBot with the restaurant’s layout, Sela shares that the robot can easily maneuver the place while avoiding obstacles thanks to its built-in sensors resulting in no accidents, spillages, and breakages so far. While the robot still lacks a name, customers have the fun task of suggesting what it can be called adding another quirk when dining in.
American Robotech, a Plano-based company in Texas, sells these robots for as high as $16,800 to as low as $10,800 depending on the size and capabilities of the model. Leasing these robots is also possible for the monthly rate of $499. Said robots are made in China by the company, Pudu.
Taco Borga, co-owner of La Duni, had their robots programmed by American Robotech, which only took them an hour to do so. The process is as simple as determining what capabilities you would want it to have, waiting for the programming to finish, and receiving the robots all ready to work for today’s service.
Given the advantages of hiring robots as employees in the restaurant industry, one can expect these artificially intelligent droids to be a permanent fixture in the nearby future.
For robots purchased or leased through American Robotech, there is the option to program a robot to speak 12 languages. That function alone can help restaurant owners gain more profit as it can attract international tourists to dine in their restaurants and break the language barrier.
With convenience in mind, Borga plans on expanding the robot workforce of La Duni to their restaurant’s delivery business model, which can save them needed manpower in the restaurant or in transportation expenses.
Also taking into consideration the recent worker shortage and the demand for wage increases all the while combatting the rising costs of goods and services, restaurant owners are seeing robots as valuable and reliable employees worth investing in in the long run.
Although, Borga shares that robots can never fully replace people as compassion, the heart of their industry, can only be achieved by the human touch. Waley Shen, the COO of American Robotech, agrees by saying, “Robots can only help people, not replace us.”At the core of it all, robots are made to help us and make our lives easier. With this, we can expect a hybrid workforce of humans and robots working alongside together, which is a revolution in itself.