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South Florida Restaurants Turn To “Robots” During Labor Shortages

The newest employee at the Eat District in Boca Raton is really turning heads.

She’s all metal and likes to be called Bella.

Bella is a robot.

“All the reaction has been great,” said Louis Grayson, the owner of the Eat District. “Everybody’s loved it.”

Monday night, Bella served a table of four at the restaurant.

They all had their phones out, recording Bella’s every move.

“I thought that was really cool how the robot served the food,” said Kai Opena, visiting from Illinois.

“It definitely was cool to see a robot efficiently deliver it to our table,” said Aris Carrington of Boca Raton.

Grayson said it’s been the same reaction at another restaurant he owns, the Sea in Delray Beach, where two Bellas roam the floor.

Getting Bella to work is pretty simple.

You just place the food on her trays, tell her which table to go to, and watch her work.

But Grayson said Bella is more than just a sideshow attraction.

He believes she’s the answer to a lot of pandemic problems, like finding people to work.

“Definitely the labor shortage,” he said. “It’s helped us with having an extra helping hand inside the restaurant.”

Grayson said Bella is also efficient and provides contactless delivery of the food.

“With so many things going on every single day and mental health being such a big concern, this really does play a big key in helping that stressfulness out,” he said.

Bella also helps with the stress with her personality.

Mostly, she’s kind and sweet.

But touch her the wrong way, and the robot will rebel, telling you to “stop touching my ears” and “you’re annoying.”

Whatever her mood, it never affects her work ethic.

Grayson has three robots in his restaurants and is considering buying more.

He’s also heard the concerns about robots replacing humans or taking people’s jobs.

He doesn’t think that’s a problem here, saying every one of his restaurants is still looking for employees.

“We’re hiring for every position!” he said with a laugh.

He said Bella will never replace humans, but she’s pretty good at helping out.