Robots Revolutionize Dining Establishments, But Do We Really Need Human Interaction?
Sun, April 18, 2021

Robots Revolutionize Dining Establishments, But Do We Really Need Human Interaction?

Restaurants are assessing how robotics and AI in food service tasks might pay off in the fast-paced food industry / Photo by: ammentorp via 123RF

 

Restaurants are assessing how robotics and AI in food service tasks might pay off in the fast-paced food industry, said Kayla Matthews of Data Center Frontier, a website on data centers and cloud computing. Restaurants like Spyce are spearheading with robots that can concoct complex meals on-demand, for example, wrote Andrew Rigie of business news platform Forbes. Customers usually want dining establishments to meet or exceed their expectations. 

Automation will reshape the workforce, changing the customer experience and creating a profound impact on workers. According to a study conducted by the Center for an Urban Future, an American think tank, the automation potential for waiters and waitresses is at a staggering 77%. This will jump to 87% when you consider workers that prepare the restaurant’s food. 

Customer Preferences and Digitization 

We should remember that the type of experience a business wants to deliver to its customers— along with labor and real estate costs— will influence the rate of at which automation will take over its employees and disrupt workflow. To illustrate, the technology to instantly whip up cappuccinos and espresso shorts is available for restaurants to deploy, but the number of coffee shops hiring baristas seems to be growing. While it does sound counterintuitive, it is actually influenced by the customers’ desire to have an authentic experience that includes a hand-crafted beverage with a touch of human interaction. 

However, customer preferences are evolving as they now desire convenience. Businesses even want to optimize their processes. Restaurateurs have cited increasing labor costs and no tip credit or the potential loss of it for full service restaurants for digitizing their workforce. Hence, the aforementioned factors eliminate the need for establishments to hire baristas (or restaurant staff).   

Replacing or Assisting Restaurant Staff

Either way, robots can replace or assist servers. As a server, you have to endure long hours of standing, walking, and trying to balance a tray of food and beverages while winding through a crowded restaurant. For instance, a now-closed restaurant called the Kang Nam Tofu House attempted to make things easier by deploying a pedestal-shaped robot to carry food and bills to customers. The employees in the restaurant spent their time preparing side dishes and loading the food into the robot, as well as interacting with customers and handling the cash register. 

While they thought it would reduce their productivity, the employees realized gave them more time to focus on their customers. There are other restaurants like Chinese diner chain Robot.He that cut human workers out of the picture. The robots go to the table to distribute food, telling customers to enjoy their meal. In Shanghai, it costs $1,500 a month to hire one server. Therefore, robotics might be the ideal panacea to reduce costs. However, the lack of human interaction in the diner chain makes it unclear what a customer should do if they received the wrong order or encountered a billing error.   

Delivering Quality Products

Customers set a high bar on freshness and ingredient sourcing, explained Daniel P. Smith of QSR Magazine, a business-to-business magazine for the limited-service restaurant segment. It’s attractive for consumers and operators alike when a restaurant develops an appealing culinary formula and replicates those meals consistently. 

To demonstrate, Creator’s robot kitchen precisely creates the concept’s burgers, with freshness and sustainably-sourced ingredients captivating customers. “Robotics make it possible to offer the transparency customers crave,” said David Bordow, Creator’s culinary lead and experience designer.

Improving Working Conditions

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics said there are approximately 900,000 open jobs in the food services industry. Finding and retaining reliable, quality team members is an ongoing concern for restaurateurs. Employing technology in the restaurant might motivate operators to provide competitive pay and remove dangerous jobs or tasks that consume the typical day of a restaurant or kitchen staff. Leveraging technologies like robotics will also help deliver higher-quality work. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics said there are approximately 900,000 open jobs in the food services industry. Finding and retaining reliable, quality team members is an ongoing concern for restaurateurs / Photo by: Torwai Suebsri via 123RF

 

Do We Have High Expectations On Robotics? 

Recently, two high-profile robot startups focusing on food preparation have slashed costs with Cafe X, an automated coffee shop shutting down three stores in San Francisco, said Jonathan Vanian of Fortune, a business magazine. Zume Pizza fired over 200 employees and has shifted from pizza-making robots to sustainable food packaging. 

These instances have at a time when expectations on robotics are high considering the declining cost of robotic components and the rise of machine learning. Of course, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the robotics sector. Remy Glaisner, an analyst at research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) stated that the worldwide market for robotics will grow to $112.4 billion with a rate of 17.8% year-over-year in 2020, as found by IDC. Investors and businesses might be led to believe that AI advancements and cheaper hardware might mean a new age of robotics. 

While we may perceive robot-run restaurants as the so-called new age, the reality is that we are not truly ready to be served completely by robots, noted Katie Canales of Business Insider, a business and financial news platform. 

Restaurants and other dining establishments can deploy robots to optimize processes, assist staff, or prepare food. It’s understandable for operators to invest in robots due to labor costs / Photo by: Andriy Popov via 123RF


Restaurants and other dining establishments can deploy robots to optimize processes, assist staff, or prepare food. It’s understandable for operators to invest in robots due to labor costs. But they should not forget that establishments need to have a touch of human interaction to let customers have an enjoyable experience. 

other sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewrigie/2018/09/24/the-rise-of-the-restaurant-robot/#44dceb623747

https://www.businessinsider.com/san-francisco-robot-restaurants-failing-eatsa-cafex-2020-1