Dutch restaurants recruit robot waiters as Covid-19 restrictions ease

Two restaurants in the Netherlands are using robotic waiting staff to serve food and maintain social distancing as eateries in the country reopen this week.

Image: Royal Palace

We’ve had mannequins, toy pandas, pool noodle hats and designer dining lampshades, but now it is the turn of the robots.

Restaurants around the the world are devising unusual ways in which to limit social contact between customers and staff.

Restaurants in the Netherlands were allowed to reopen from 1 June, with tables spaced 1.5 metres apart and a maximum of 30 diners.

Asian restaurant Dadawan in Maastricht has hired three new members of staff – Amy, Aker and James – a trio of robots, which are intended to reduce the number of times the restaurant’s human workforce pass through the eatery.

The robots carry food and drink to diners on trays. This must be picked up by the customer at the table, and then the robot returns to the kitchen automatically.

According to Reuters, staff equipped with face masks load food and drink onto the trays, press a table number, and then the robot does its duty.

Meanwhile, fellow Asian restaurant Royal Palace in Renesse ordered two robotic helpers back in March, before Covid-19 took hold. The eatery is now offering customers the opportunity to name its two new waiters for the chance to win a free meal.

Royal Palace owner Shaosong Hu told Editie NL: “The plan had been around for some time. I saw them [the robots] in China and liked them. So I ordered them then.”

Robots in bars and restaurants are not new. Earlier this year, a Tokyo restaurant chain made headlines after claimed that it had to resort to using a robot bartender to make drinks at its railway station pub, after it failed to find a human who was up to the job. Meanwhile, in 2017, a bar entirely staffed by robots opened in Las Vegas. 

The current situation means we could start to see more non-human helpers appearing at restaurants around the world.

Tim Warrington, CEO of Bots.co.uk, a company which hires out and makes robots, told The Telegraph that he’d seen a “huge increase in demand for waitress and delivery robots”.

He said the company was about to launch a new service which allows customers to hire a robot and its software for £950 a month.

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