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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Robot Waiters: The Wave of the Future?

Restaurants are always trying to find new ways to make the dining experience better for their customers. In the future, waiters will probably be replaced by robots and iPads so that restaurant owners won't have to pay a wage to us lowly servers. Well, the future is here. Thank you to reader Adam, who writes the blog Hair-Raising Hell, for alerting me to a new-fangled contraption he encountered while dining at Pizzeria Uno. (I know that it is now called Uno's, but when I worked there it was called Pizzeria Uno and that is what it will always be in my heart.) It's called a kiosk and it basically lets you do away with your waiter for a good portion of your meal. Having never seen one myself, I can only assume that it lets customers order more drinks and dessert and then pay their check. That's just great. We servers are soon to be relegated to food runners and if you think people are going to tip after using a kiosk, you can think again. But what about all the things that servers do that a kiosk can't? Let me count the ways:
  1. A kiosk will never be able to give you a warm and thoughtful hello that you in return will ignore completely.
  2. A kiosk will never be able to compliment your pantsuit in an effort to get a 1% higher tip.
  3. A kiosk will not be able to flash its tits to straight guys.
  4. A kiosk will not be able to give a big fake ass laugh when a customer says, "Why is my burger taking so long? Did you have to go kill the cow?"
  5. A kiosk will not be able to turn down the air conditioning because you are sitting directly under a vent and you just got over a cold and it's very important that the temperature of the whole entire restaurant be determined by you and only you, you fucking bitch.
  6. A kiosk can't give you a coloring book so that your kid will draw on paper instead of the fucking wall.
  7. A kiosk will never be able to tell you discreetly that your credit card has been declined. It will just flash DECLINED so that everyone at your table will know that your broke ass can't keep up with your minimum payments. A waiter would be able to hand you your declined card discreetly and save you the embarrassment.
  8. A kiosk can't give you more lemon wedges and I bet there is not button on there that says "My coffee isn't hot enough" or "The Coke is flat."
  9. A kiosk will not be able to accept phone numbers.
  10. A kiosk will not rush to your table when your child knocks over the glass of milk that you wanted in a "big girl cup" instead of the one with the lid.
  11. A kiosk will never be able to feed your ego because a kiosk won't be impressed when you whip out your black American Express card.
  12. A kiosk will not respond to finger snapping or whistles and I know a lot of customers really enjoy doing that. Those assholes will miss that.
  13. A kiosk will not be able tell you how good the special of the night is. It will only have a written description of it but a server will have tasted it and be able to give you a first hand description of it.
  14. A kiosk can't flirt with you.
  15. A kiosk will never be able to tell you thank you for coming in and really mean it. Every once in a while I truly enjoy the interaction I have between a customer and I actually mean it when I tell them "I am glad you came in tonight. Thank you."

Here is the picture Adam sent in. Beware. If you see it, ask for a real server and let's keep these things out of restaurants.

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Bunny Wilson said...

I would not like this at all! There is a restaurant in Grandville, MI that has had telephones at the tables for like 20 years. You look at the menu and call your order back to the kitchen with the phone. It's a little family style local place and people think it's cute. I thought it was annoying.

Anonymous said...

It also doesn't have a cash button.

Or enable you to ask about foods you are "allergic" to.

I can see a few problems with this. And thats before people learn how to game/hack the terminals to get free stuff.

Chunky Mama said...

First of all - Yay, Adam! So happy to see the shout out to his blog here. I just adore him. :)

Second - I unfortunately think the kiosks are here to stay. My family has always boycotted the self-service kiosks at the grocery stores because they are putting cashiers out of work. But, you still see those damned things in almost every store. Sadly, we are becoming a society where nobody wants to "deal with" human beings.

Confessions from the Hairdresser said...

Not that anyone besides myself cares or is judging, but I would like to say that I was only eating at Pizzeria Uno's because my dining companions happened to be a four year old and it's the only restaurant that he knows.

I proudly eat at McDonalds.

I hate to say anything that might sound like I favor the robot waiter, but it did have a touch-screen treasure hunt game that entertained the little brat. Since he's not one of those brats that needs to be pacified with technology just to behave according to the minimum standards of human behavior in a restaurant I'm in no hurry to teach him to play video games while he's eating.
But according to most complacent lazy parents it might be a bonus for robot waiter.

Awesome post though, and thanks for the shout out.

Anonymous said...

I'm sadly on a very low income lifestyle right now, and I SO miss going to restaurants and eating one of their featured or 'famous' dishes. If can even scrape the $13-$16 the entree costs (nope can't afford anything to drink but water), I certainly can't afford to tip. But I'd be embarrassed not to!

If this takes away the need to tip, I'm all for it! I mean, I like to eat out for the whole dining "experience" the same as the next person but I just can't. Why, if they just put an interface on/in the table I'd straight order from there, and go pick it up myself at the counter when it's ready! When I was younger I was an English teacher in Japan and they had some restaurants that even delivered the foods to the table on conveyer belts hehe.

As for the losing jobs aspect...this is happening everywhere. I work retail and the store I work at has digital price & sale tags on the shelf that are self-updating. This of course means they don't need extra stockpeople to run around switching tags around on prior to promotions, which loses us man-hours. But-it's the future, gotta roll with it, and just appreciate that now you have less stress on your shift of having to eyeball every tag on every shelf of a given section to re-label.

XCrossing fingers & toes and hoping this "robot waiter" concept goes National!X

Noelle said...

All future servers go get programming degrees. These computers won't work without a people to program and provide constant maintenance.

Bright side they don't talk back.

I can't see this ever working in finer dinning unless it really is the Jetson's Rosie (love her). Apparently it might work in a pizza joint.

Fleur said...

I can't see this as appealing at all.

Give me a real human being.

Someone like my mom I'm sure would entirely avoid any restaurant with such a contraption.

Anonymous said...

If I wanted to visit restaurants w/o waiters ans wiatresses, I would eat fast food, and I outgrew that shit a long time ago.

LaLa Lady said...

I don't think they will really catch on.

I can just see it now, people typing in their order, but when it arrives, it will still be wrong because they meant something else. Or their order didn't come out fast enough because it took them 20 to use the damn touch screen.

Because the customer refuses to address their mistakes, they need someone to blame. Our jobs are safe.

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