Will Robotics Replace Workers . . . or Reinvent Work?

Robots never take sick days or have a bad day (except maybe when they malfunction). They can be counted on for flawless portion sizes and consistent service execution reducing costs and showing an immediate increase to the daily bottom line. They don’t need training, uniforms and will never fail a drug or alcohol test, again further reducing hard dollar costs directly increasing profit margins. Here are some examples of how robots and robotic technology are currently in use today recently showcased at the National Restaurant Show:

Food Preparation

Sally the Robot can prepare over 1000 different varieties of salads in just 60 seconds allowing the customer to design exactly the salad the customer wants, managing the caloric content and using their preferred ingredients.


We’re becoming more familiar with tablet table side ordering and pre-ordering online, however there is a devise created by Bear Robotics that actually brings your food to your table.  The agile server robot, called Penny, is designed to navigate in a restaurant’s crowded, narrow spaces, using sensors to avoid any obstacles. Penny is already employed (forgive the pun) in CA and Korea.

What’s Next?

What do these advancements mean for servers, bartenders and kitchen staff? If you ask me, the answer is more interesting work and the ability to more thoughtfully engage with patrons. It gives management a moment to take a breath and consider ways to function ahead of the curve focusing on the next big thing — remaining competitive. It gives restaurants the ability to free up capital used currently in daily operations and invest in technology, ideas and expansion.  Highly skilled employees will demand higher wages. By releasing capital it’s possible to invest in staff, potentially minimizing the high turnover experienced today

Eating out is here to stay.  Nielssen, the global analytics that strives to provide a complete and trusted view to consumers and markets worldwide published the study “What’s in Our Food and On Our Mind: Ingredient and Dining Out Trends Around the World in 2016.”

A few notable trends sited in the study are: an increased focus on health and wellness; the aging of the global population; rising chronic disease rates and the role a healthy diet plays in health management plans; the use of food choices and ingredients in disease treatment and prevention and lastly increasingly educated, connected and discriminating consumers with many choices available to them.

Imagine the state of the future of your restaurant. Imagine recruiting and retaining highly skilled, interested and engaged  employees focused on your common goal of designing a memorable dining experience that was not only enjoyable but generated and maintained a healthier lifestyle. As corny as it seems, investing in technology and people, both servers and customers, could make our world a better place.

Focusing on the future sounds like a lot  more fun than reviewing reduced waste, hunting employees down to show up for their shifts, and hounding them to do more faster with less. The future is now for those that are prepared to invest in and grasp the potential.


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