ROBOTIC BUSSER. A robot waiter delivers glasses of water to Cory
Perdue, left, and Julia Perdue at Sapporo II Japanese Restaurant in
Frederick, Maryland, on March 15, 2023. The restaurant recently welcomed
a new employee ó a robot waiter. (Katina Zentz/The Frederick
News-Post via AP)
From The Asian Reporter, V33, #4 (April 3, 2023), page 7.
Waiter on wheels: Robot serves Japanese restaurant
By Clara Niel
The Frederick News-Post
FREDERICK, Md. (AP) ó While the thought of a robot delivering food
and drink at a restaurant may hearken images straight out of a Star Wars
cantina, the droid helping wait tables at one Frederick eatery is less
R2-D2 than a souped-up iPad on wheels.
Sapporo II Japanese Restaurant at 5 W. Church St. in downtown
Frederick welcomed a new employee several weeks ago ó a robot waiter.
It rolls around the restaurant, with a screen displaying a cheerful
cartoon face and a little chef hat. Under the screen are three levels of
When itís not working, it rests by the wall and charges.
The $25,000 robot can sing customers "Happy Birthday" or a festive
Christmas tune. It can dance and use different voices.
The restaurant staff is trying to see if they can give the robot a
British accent, said Uriel Cuevas, head server at Sapporo II.
With its three trays, the robot can carry a lot of orders.
Cuevas said that for a small serving staff, the robot ó whose name is
pending ó is helpful when the restaurant gets busy.
"Letís say thereís like five soups back there, and other servers at
tables are attending, taking orders, socializing. We would have the
robot, of course," Cuevas said.
And people can only carry so many plates, he said, while the robot
can carry as many plates as will fit on its three trays.
The robot isnít meant to replace the staff, Cuevas said, but rather
help with the workflow of the restaurant. Currently, the robot is in its
"infant" stage, Cuevas said.
The robot does not take customersí orders. It can only be programmed
to bring people dishes or help bring dishes back to the kitchen.
"It helps from the kitchen being clogged up in the back with there
being an immense amount of plates. It relieves the pressure of that," he
Customers canít interact with it yet, but Cuevas said the restaurant
is hoping to change that.
He and Sapporo II owner Chris Song want the robot to be able to
communicate with customers if they have questions about the menu, like
if a certain dish is gluten free or has allergens.
Song said its most useful feature now is to help servers clear
One server might have to make multiple trips to clear a table. With
the robot, a server can pile plates, silverware, and glasses on the
robotís trays and send it back to the kitchen while they focus on other
Kadin Wetherholt, a server at Sapporo II since September, confirmed
that the robot is helpful to clean tables. It also saves him from
awkwardly singing "Happy Birthday" to customers.
Itís cool, he said, but he wasnít a big fan of the robot when it
first came to the restaurant. Heís still trying to warm up to it.
"Iím really old fashioned, so Iím like pen and paper. I just like
walking to my tables," he said. "I was just like, ĎWow, like the times
have really changed.í"
Most customers love it, and whip out their phones to take a video of
it as it cruises by their tables, Cuevas said. Other people who donít
like technology are a little afraid of it, but he tells them not to
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