It wasn’t steamed chicken feet and sticky rice dumplings that surprised Eric Young at a Chinese restaurant in Vancouver last month, it was how they got to his table.
“We went to Dim Sum one morning, and we brought the food to us and we stopped at the table,” said Young, describing a robotic servant equipped with four shelves and a face somewhat resembling a cat. .
“I thought it was kind of cool, so I asked the owner how to get one. He said he ordered it online and it was delivered.”
Young, the owner of four restaurants in May Garden in Halifax, took delivery of two of the robots this week at his Mill Cove site and at his casino restaurant, which is run by his son, Gary.
Eric said of his 180-seat restaurant that has been closed due to the pandemic for over a year.
“We reopened a short time ago, so we need to announce.”
Bella is made in China, and there are more than 100 restaurants operating in Canada.
“It’s very common in China. Some are running four or five running around the restaurant,” Young said as a staff member staged a demonstration at Mill Cove, which has 220 seats and is its busiest location.
A technician came to tell all the waiters and waitresses how to use it. Even now, I don’t know how, I still need to take some time.”
When an order is ready to move from the kitchen to the dining room, dishes are placed on Bella’s shelves.
The robot instructs “Please enter your schedule number” before heading out on its journey to customers.
“The waiter is really serving the food,” explained Young, who said his crew is passionate about the technology.
“Of course, they are young people, very excited to see that I spent that much money!”
The robots also sing happy birthday, and will tell a story to a child who is bored or unruly.
One Bella is $25,000 to buy, or $35,000 in installments. Young also considers bots to be advertisements.
“That’s why I asked for them, not only because I know that in Halifax, no one else has a robot in the restaurant,” said Young, who is also considering using robots at my other May Garden locations.
“I’ll see how it works.”