How Bizarre: Upstate New York Restaurant Hires Robots Amidst Labor Shortage
When life hands you lemons, you're supposed to make lemonade, right? Well, that's exactly what one Upstate New York restaurant is doing with the help of a robot.
According to the Albany Business Review, Boil Shack on Wolf Road in Colonie, New York, added a new team member to their staff. It's not just any team member, nor was it one that went through a full interview process. It's a robot by the name of BellaBot.
Owner of the Boil Shack, Bill Chow, explained that he spent over two months searching for anyone to fill the position to help run his restaurant. That's when he started looking into investing in a robot instead. He saw videos from friends who run Asian restaurants in New York City and California that had the model, and that made him want one.
He says that BellaBot is programmed to run takeout orders the 40 paces from the kitchen to the hostess stand and from the kitchen to tables with as many as 12 plates. However, they will not replace the servers.
Right now we're operating without a food runner. Most restaurants have at least one or two food runners on a busy night. And we haven't been able to fill that position now for two months. And I don't think a robot would ever replace a server because we still want that interaction being a full-service restaurant. But it definitely could replace a full food runner,
The Albany Business Review says the restaurant is leasing the robot for about the same price paying a food runner would cost $500 to $600 per month. If Chow were to invest in the model, it would be very costly — between $18,000 and $20,000 — and the restaurant would be responsible for repairs and upgrades.
We've seen automated kiosks being added to fast-food restaurants across the country over the past few years, but I can't think of ever seeing a full-fledged robot in a restaurant.
Chow said his customers are loving the addition of BellaBot for many reasons, but they love her mostly because it can sing "Happy Birthday," ask guests how their food is, and make faces. Plus, it's gotten the community to talk about the restaurant - with more customers walking through the doors.
There are several Boil Shack locations in New York, including one in New Hartford. Would you love to go to a restaurant where there was a robot worker? Or would you prefer to have a living, breathing person take care of you? Let us know inside our station app.