Meet the robot helping relieve overworked staff at restaurant in DeKalb

DeKalb County, Ga. — A worker shortage is impacting the service industry more than many jobs out there. According to the National Restaurant Association restaurants across the United States are down about 1 million workers compared to before the pandemic. In Georgia, the Georgia Restaurant estimates that number is about 90-thosuand employees.

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One way a restaurant owner in DeKalb County found to relieve overworked staff: robots.

Raymone Williams owns Tastee Spoon in Dunwoody. She opened her Caribbean restaurant twelve years ago. But the pandemic changed everything. Williams said she moved her operation from a location inside the Perimeter Mall to a standalone operation as Georgia allowed owners to reopen. “We saw the demand that customers wanted to interact somewhat and that’s how the robot came into play,” said Williams.

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“Millie” greets customers with a digital menu, water, napkins and silverware. Customers put their order into a touch screen, then when the food is ready employees place the plates onto the robot’s shelves and send it to the table. Employees do check in with tables to make sure they have what they need and create that human connection.

Williams told us staff love the help. “It’s a partner to everyone” she said, “they can get to know the customers… they can build a rapport with our guests.”

Williams told us she hasn’t cut staff since bringing the robot server on board. In fact, she encouraged anyone who may be searching for a job to apply.

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Karen Bremer with the Georgia Restaurant Association says Williams is not alone. Bremer says approximately 3,800 restaurants in Georgia shut down during the pandemic are still closed today. Bremer said there is help “We have many restaurateurs that are working with school systems that have culinary programs, hospitality programs. We also have pending legislation in Washington, DC to create a new category of visas for restaurant workers.”

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