COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) — “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Carmen Williams said after being seated by a robot at her dining table for lunch.
Chef Li’s Beijing restaurant on Bradley Park Avenue in Columbus has some new hires, but it’s not what you’d expect.
The next time you try Lee’s, Ruby or Emerald’s egg drop soup or snow white chicken, the robot will happily guide you to your seat.
Chef Li’s Beijing restaurant owner, Juliet, believes the interaction between customers and staff is very important.
So she decided to introduce new technology to improve customer satisfaction, robot hostess. Zhu said the robots are there so waiters can spend more time catering to customers.
“They didn’t replace the waiters, they just made the job easier,” Zhu said.
Now, there are two robots that act as hostess, Emerald or Ruby. Four or more should start helping out with takeout orders soon.
Here’s how they work: After you walk into the party and provide your number, the staff gives the robot a code to tell you which section to sit in. Afterwards, follow Emerald or Ruby to the sections and free tables she guides you to.
“Usually, we have them follow the robot and put the menu on the table,” Zhu said. “When they follow the robot, they are laughing. They bring joy to customers,” Zhu said.
So far, the robots have been the highlight of guests’ dining experience at Chef Li’s restaurant, Zhu said.
“My husband and I, we’ve been here and seen the robot, but we’ve never been brought to a table by one, so it was a good experience,” customer Becky Bunting said.
“It wasn’t what we expected when we came for lunch, but Ruby was great,” says customer Lisa Scully.
Owners say the worker shortage has nothing to do with their reasons for bringing in the robots. Chu said Chef Lee has been a Columbus staple since 1998, and she just wants to keep up with the times to ensure the restaurant will continue to exist for many years to come.
“We have a great history, and I wanted to bring a modern twist to this historic restaurant. Lots of places are fast in and out, and they’re using machines. When you go to a lot of these chains, they don’t have cashiers, They use machines to help people, so that’s the trend,” Zhu said.
One customer, Norman Davis, agreed with the restaurant’s decision to introduce the trend.
“I love the change, I love the update, and everything is robotic now, so this is a good fit,” Davis said.
If you’d like to meet Emerald or Ruby for an exquisite lunch or dinner experience, Chef Lee’s is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-9pm at 6100 Bradley Park Avenue, Columbus.
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