Restaurants use robots to help with pandemic worker shortage

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CBS Newspath – The pandemic created a major shortage of workers at restaurants. Now some businesses are turning to technology for help.

At the Dallas restaurant La Duni, three robots can greet customers and deliver meals. Taco Borga owns the restaurant and says it’s not a novelty but a necessity because he can’t find enough workers. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘They’re taking people’s jobs.’ Guess what. No, they’re not taking anybody’s job because no one is showing up. What they are doing is helping the ones who are really working.”

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Sergio’s Restaurant in Miami is also employing high-tech help for the same reason. “We can’t service the entire restaurant, so 30 percent of our restaurants, dining rooms are closed because we just don’t have the staffing to fulfill the demand,” says Sergio’s Restaurant CEO Carlos Gazitua.

The robots allow servers to handle more tables. It’s a trend happening in restaurants around the world, from Seoul, South Korea to Iraq where one restaurant uses a conveyer system to get meals to customers.

“Restaurants are definitely gonna become more automated,” says Martin Ford, author of “Rule of the Robots.” He says restaurants started using technology like ordering kiosks and robots that deliver food to homes before the pandemic. Now White Castle is experimenting with a robot to help in the kitchen. And the salad chain Sweetgreen recently bought the company Spyce that created a robotic restaurant in Boston.

“Whether you like it or not, I think it is a trend, so the best thing is that we all find ways to adapt to it,” Ford says.

More restaurants are hiring the robots, believing the machines can help create a recipe for success.

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