Ocean City Restaurant Employs Robot Server to Combat Staffing Shortage
An Ocean City restaurant is trying a novel approach to the worker shortage this summer: a robot server named “Little Peanut.”
The Island Grill in Ocean City is trying out the robot to help serve customers and bus tables. Island Grill owner, Andrew Yoa, told News 12 New Jersey, “Once we realized that we may not have any servers this summer, we were like, ‘Well we may need to look into this a little more.’”
I don’t know if it is a full fledged trend, but there are reports from restaurants throughout the country employing the robo-servers; in Hollywood, FL, an eatery bought three of the robots for $30,000, again for the same reason: the labor shortage. At that restaurant, the Mr. Q Crab House, one robot greets customers as they arrive; after giving their order to a real live person, the food is delivered by a different robot.
Yoa told News 12 that the robot is there to help, not replace servers: “It’s basically extra arms for them so that they could be getting a drink order for someone and the meals for another table could be coming out or an appetizer could be coming out,” says Yoa. “It can do multiple stops so it can stop at one station, drop off an appetizer and go to drop someone’s meal off.” He also said that the robots aren't taking anyone’s job, because he has 60 open positions and no candidates to fill them. The robots don’t ask for raises or take sick days, either, although they do have to be recharged.