At Elie Maalouf’s brunch in Gatineau, Quebec, diners these days are treated with a smile and a friendly meow.
Maalouf added a cat-themed robot known as “BellaBot” to the staff at La Buena DÃ©jeuner, as the restaurant on St-Joseph Boulevard struggles, like many other Canadian restaurants, to find and retain workers for a while. the COVID-19 pandemic.
âWe don’t have a name for it yet, but soon we will,â Maalouf recently told CBC Radio. Ottawa morning. “It’s not really a purchase yet. It’s only a trial period, although I think he passed the interview.”
Maalouf said he came up with the idea of âârecruiting non-human aid in May, when the labor shortage became particularly severe.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, his restaurant had 16 paid employees. By spring, they were down to eight, including members of Maalouf’s own family.
“I was [one] employees. My wife was [one] employees. My sister came to help us on the weekends, and my dad and my aunt worked in the kitchen, âhe said.
Since having only three permanent employees was “not much of a way to run a restaurant,” Maalouf began to consider the BellaBot, designed by Chinese company Pudu Robotics, as a temporary solution.
The robot can carry up to 12 hot, heavy dishes from the kitchen, Maalouf said, although his servers always accompany him to dinner tables.
It comes with big shiny eyes and pointy cat shaped ears. He also meows when you stroke him, something Maalouf said his clients seem to particularly like.
âMy heart was pounding a little and I was really excited for the robot to come here,â said guest Simon Tesfay. “I hope this is the future.”
While the vast majority of La Buena DÃ©jeuner customers are tickled by the thought of being served by a robotic cat, Maalouf said he understood that some might be uncomfortable with the idea that a technology does the work of a human being.
It will never replace an employee.– Elie Maalouf
The robot has limits – it can’t fill someone’s drinks, it can’t deliver meals to diners, it can’t replace missing tableware – but it’s ultimately a tool for getting through to the restoring a tough time, Maalouf said.
“I really want to make sure everyone understands that this will never replace an employee. It only helps us as restaurant employees. It helps us manage the workload throughout the day.” , did he declare.
“It will never replace good service from good workers.”