Restaurant chain introduces robot waiters to address staffing shortages

The  Staff Canteen

Restaurant Chain The Chinese buffet has revealed new robot waiters in a bid to make up for staffing shortages.

Owners of the nine restaurants across the Northwest and Northeast of England Paolo Hu and Peter Wu have bought four 'BellaBot' robots, which can serve customers, chat with them and even sing happy birthday. 

Announcing the news, David Ramsden, a spokesperson for The Chinese Buffet said: "It’s quirky and customers love it. We have people doing TikToks, others saying the children loved the robot."

"During the pandemic, because people needed to remain seated, rather than being a traditional buffet it became a table-service buffet. You ordered via the app and it was delivered directly to your table, but that became much more onerous on the waiting staff," he explained.

 "With covid issues causing staff issues, most often in hospitality, it’s difficult to get the staff, so robots became top of mind. It’s timely because there’s a big staffing issue in hospitality.”

Not designed to replace the serving staff but to free them up to interact with customers and address other issues, the robots have four shelves, each of which is large enough to carry an entire table's worth of food.

David said: "[the managers] were sceptical to start with, but since they’ve had them, they make a massive difference. It’s primarily to solve the staffing crisis, but the reality is, it's making such a difference to the restaurant that it will become much more commonplace.

David also explained how they had moved on from just robots in their own restaurants. He said: "We’re now importing the robots and providing them to anybody that needs them – with hospitality being the initial target market.”

The Chinese Buffet isn't the only brand using robot staff members. Tea Room brand Tea Terrance recently introduced a second robot waitress to its Woking branch;  South London trampoline park Gravity Southside has, since summer 2021, employed a team of three android staff, and Tech-led Chinese Restaurant ShaXian Delicacies features a noodle chopping robot in its window.

Clearly, robots are making waves in the hospitality industry. Would you employ a robot waiter?

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th January 2022

Restaurant chain introduces robot waiters to address staffing shortages