MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The labor shortage continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry. The industry is still down by nearly 40,000 employees in Minnesota. To solve the problems of staff shortages, Thai restaurant Sawatdee got creative.
The restaurant, which has five locations, including Minneapolis, has a robot called DeeDee assist servers. DeeDee transports food, drinks, and dirty dishes between the kitchen and dining tables.
The restaurant said the robot is designed to “automate repetitive manual work, allowing restaurant staff to focus on exceptional customer service.” It is created by a robotics and artificial intelligence company in California.
“It has been really difficult at the moment to get people. In any position in all of my restaurants, ”said Harrison.
Harrison explained that DeeDee is not meant to replace staff, but only to help them. Waiters always meet visitors at tables, they simply don’t have to make multiple trips.
Although the additional help comes from a robot, Harrison said that doesn’t take away from the human experience. Instead, it does the exact opposite.
“We want it to improve human interaction. They have more time to spend with you because they’re not back in the kitchen anymore, ”said Harrison.
Although Cyndy said DeeDee was Minnesota’s first robot server, Liz Rammer of Hospitality Minnesota said it wasn’t a new idea.
“Some places see robotics as a potential solution for the back of the house as well. Maybe for some repetitive things like hashing and things like that that a robotics can bring to the table, ”Rammer said.
Rammer added that to accommodate staff shortages, many restaurants are limiting hours and days. Even with an assistant like DeeDee Cyndy told WCCO that still wasn’t enough.
“We recruit on all my sites. Please apply, ”Cyndy said.
Sawatdee has a second robotic server at its Maple Grove site.