VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – As restaurants struggle to bounce back after COVID, some restaurant owners are finding innovative ways to deal with the shortage of workers.
At Fisher’s Neighborhood Kitchen in Virginia Beach, the staff has welcomed a new co-worker of sorts: a robot programmed to serve the food to customers is the restaurants newest employee.
General manager, Tyler Floyd, told News 3 the technology is not taking jobs away from people, rather it's basically a helping hand that allows them to stay open seven days a week, especially during the day when it's harder to find workers. He said wait staff still takes the customer's order, but then kitchen staff can program the robot to deliver the food to a particular table. The bot can also drive dirty dishes back to the kitchen.
Floyd says he witnessed a similar robot at another restaurant and was intrigued.
"The lightbulb kind of went off, and we realized, hold on, using this gives us a great asset because it allows us to do more with less," Floyd stated.
Customers seem to be intrigued.
"I think it’s a brilliant way to help their jobs," said customer Michelle Doy.
The Landry family came in for lunch mostly to see the robot in action.
"I’m 83, and so to see something like this at my age, it’s just amazing," commented grandmother Carolyn Landry. "It’s kind of creepy, too," she laughed.
Meanwhile, her grandson 14-year-old Bryce Landry, who's a self-proclaimed computer nerd said, "It'd be fun to think about all the programming that must have been put into it to make it run like that." It’s interesting to think about all the camera technology and algorithms to make it not bump into tables or bump into people."
The robot is made by Bear Robotics which says this is the first mass-produced robot that can autonomously carry food, drinks, and dirty dishes between the kitchen and the dining area.
Floyd says he expects to see more restaurants trying out the new technology.