DALLAS — The nationwide labor shortage has forced a North Texas restaurant to rethink how they recruit their labor force. Given the surplus amount of jobs available in the lone star state, some employers are at their "wits' end" when it comes to finding the right talent.
In order to operate with some of the staffing woes, the owners of La Duni restaurant in Dallas have turned to a trio of robot servers for assistance. Three robots named Coqueta, Alexcita and Panchita have been leased for about $1,000 each per month from American Robotech to help with front of house duties. The bots have the ability to greet guest upon check-in and run food and drinks to individual tables using lidar technology and AI learning.
"It changes your entire operation perspective immediately, it's magic," said Taco Borga, the co-owner of La Duni.
After a near year in quarantine, and then a devastating winter blast, Borga said hiring hospitality workers had become a nightmare. After a big slowdown in business, Borga said many of his former staff members sought out higher paying jobs outside of the service industry.
"They already found new directions, activities, new things to do with their life," said Borga. "It's not that they're unemployed, it's just they decided they didn't want to be in the hospitality industry any longer."
Four out of the five La Duni restaurants had to close their doors due to COVID-19. The original location survived the COVID-19 economic setback, but the only problem was having enough people to serve at full capacity, plus the growing demand for takeout orders.
After months without any luck in hiring, Borga decided to integrate the robots with his staff. The bots have been tasked to alleviate the servers responsibility of heavy lifting and other small tasks. Borga said in return, his servers are able to get more personable with the guests, while saving the burden of food running for the machines.
"Especially when this is really full, it's good to know she's here," said Miranda Garcia, a server at La Duni. "It's more money for us."
Borga said his servers have been able to improve their work efficiency up to 40%, thanks to help of the serving robots. The robots themselves have also garnered a lot of social media attention, too, from unsuspecting guest who are surprised to see a self-operating machine bringing out their hot plate.