The labor shortage and increasing cost of available labor is going to drive more and more of this. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – unless you are that 16-year-old kid looking for your first job.
Elliana chose Shanghai Bistro in Eau Claire in part because she loves its sushi, but mostly because she adores the Asian restaurant’s new “employee”: Jonny 5.
The 3½-foot-tall robot server, named after a fictional robot in the 1980s “Short Circuit” films, has been delivering plates of sushi, fried rice and pad Thai to diners since the end of October.
Jonny 5 has been a valuable addition to the staff and helped Shanghai Bistro navigate a labor shortage that has hit restaurants particularly hard, said owner Henry Chan.
“It’s definitely proven itself,” Chan said. “It’s working out really well.”
Chan’s goal in leasing the robot is to improve efficiency by having Jonny 5 do a healthy portion of the running back and forth between the kitchen and the tables, so servers can focus on offering personal service, filling drink orders faster and chatting with customers.
“It’s a huge benefit to us. Our efficiency just shot through the roof because of how fast food goes out,” Chan said, noting that the robot already has helped things go smoothly on days when the restaurant was short-staffed or someone called in sick.