Stockton restaurant adds food delivery robot amid staff shortage

Local News

STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) – A Stockton restaurant struggling to hire new employees is turning to technology for help by using an autonomous food delivery robot.

Antionette Tull is a regular at Sugar Mediterranean Bistro in Stockton. But Friday when she arrived at her favorite lunch spot with a friend, they were greeted by a new face, the restaurant’s autonomous food delivery robot.

“It’s the wave of the future I think,” Tull said. “It’s amazing. I was not expecting to have service from a robot today, what an experience.”

The restaurant bought the robot to help support their limited staff.

Like many businesses, general manager Ana Ortiz says she has struggled to hire workers. 

“We’ve tried to pay more line cooks, pay more for servers, pay more for goods and dishwashers and everything, it’s just like there is always somebody that wants to pay a little more,” Ortiz said.

She says before getting the robot she would sometimes get behind serving tables on her own and says, while it’s new, she believes it will make their job easier. 

“During the lunch rush this thing is going to help me run back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and it’s going to save me time and it’s going to bring your food faster,” Ortiz told FOX40.

Servers can load up the robot with food and drinks and send it to customers with a touch of a button. 

Ortiz adds while it’s a fun addition to her team, it’s no substitute for a human server. 

“I love to come to the table, I love to talk to people, and he’s not gonna take that away from me, but it’s gonna help me a lot, and they love the interaction with the robot, though they like to touch the button and send it back,” Ortiz explained.

“One of the reasons I’m such a fan of this restaurant is because of the people here,” Tull said. “They make you feel at home, and you know when somebody says, ‘Well, hello,’ and when it’s like oh my gosh they know who I am, it makes me feel important, but this I think is the wave of the future.”

The restaurant says they haven’t named their new robot server yet, but customers can submit suggestions when they come in. 

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