La Duni, Dallas: They’ll even sing “Happy Birthday.” Robots land unwanted jobs at Latin restaurant in Texas

It was “obvious,” said Espartaco Borga, owner of La Duni since 2001, who told CNN he had never seen the industry in such dire straits.
After the Covid-19 pandemic and a major ice storm in the region, the Latin restaurant wondered how it was going to stay afloat. But little by little, the customers started to come back.

“In the dining room all of a sudden it’s completely full and our take out and deliveries stay the same. The only part that hasn’t come back is the employees,” Borga said.

“All of a sudden we had 50 to 100% more business than we had, even before Covid, with a third of the staff. So everyone was overwhelmed, overworked and frustrated, both the customers and staff, ”he said.

So Borga decided to contact American Robotech, a robotics company based in Plano, Texas, to see if they offered any solutions.

“The very next day they showed up, they mapped out the restaurant and they assigned the table numbers within 45 minutes,” Borga said. “After a day, the girl in the show line was in love with it because her arm didn’t hurt after wearing 60 trays in one day.”

The robots cost around $ 15 a day each, Borga said. And the cost savings help him pay his employees better to work less, he said.

He said the robots weren’t taking anyone’s work – because he couldn’t find people to fill those positions. “No one wants to work in the hospitality industry right now,” he said.

The robots help greet customers, bring food to tables, and will even sing “Happy Birthday”.

Borga said the servers accompany the bots and act as their manager throughout the experiment. He explained that the process is like a mobile order at the restaurant rather than at home. Each person at the table can order their own meal, the robot and the waiter take care of the rest.

Borga said the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers can interact with them and he said they treat the robots as part of the staff.

“They don’t even see them for what they are, which is a tablet on wheels,” he said. “They see them as part of the service experience because these bots have a personality, they can interact. If you touch them, they laugh and they tell you things.”

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