Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant announced this week that its location in Rogers, Ark., has deployed a Servi hospitality robot from Bear Robotics Inc. in a pilot program designed to give human servers a helping hand and more time to interact with guests.
The restaurant chain is exploring Servi's ability to improve guest satisfaction, increase efficiency, and retain staffers in a tight labor market. Owned and operated by Food Concepts International in Lubbock, Texas, the company has 26 full-service restaurants in nine states.
Founded in 2017, Bear Robotics makes mobile robots designed for the food-service industry, including Servi and Servi Mini. The Redwood, City, Calif.-based company said it is “engineering smarter solutions, allowing servers to excel by automating repetitive tasks and elevating restaurant experiences.”
Servi is built with artificial intelligence, lidar, and multiple cameras to allow it autonomously navigate as it carries dishes of food through restaurants. It’s also designed to work well with other Servi robots as restaurants grow out their fleets.
Servi freeing up tasks for human workers
In the Rogers Abuelo's restaurant, Servi is creating a smarter working environment for servers by taking on some routine and physical tasks, the restaurant said.
Servi automates repetitive tasks in the dining room, such as running food and drinks to guests as soon as items are ready and helping servers bus tables and return dishes to the back of the house for washing. This reduces the physical demands on servers, freeing them to focus on providing better service and having quality interactions with guests, according to Bear Robotics.
The service robot isn't intended to replace wait staffers but rather to provide assistance, automate routine tasks, and make their jobs easier, especially during busy times, added the company.
“Since our first restaurant opening in 1989, it's been our mission to provide superior service to every Abuelo's guest,” said Robert Lin, president of Abuelo's. “We've explored many innovations over the years to improve the guest experience, and the Servi pilot program is the latest test of how we can use technology to enhance efficiency while providing the best service in the industry.”
“Our vision is to elevate hospitality by automating the hustle behind it,” said John Ha, founder and CEO of Bear Robotics. “Restaurant servers are hardworking people who provide memorable moments for guests. At forward-thinking restaurants like Abuelo's, Servi hospitality robots don't replace restaurant staff, but they do help servers provide an incredible dining experience.”
Bear Robotics completes Series B
Earlier this year, Bear Robotics completed an $81 million Series B funding round, which it said it will use to iterate on its products and hire more staffers. To date, the company has raised $115.8 million, according to Crunchbase.
The hospitality robot market could expand from $295.5 million in 2020 to $2 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5%, estimated Allied Market Research.
Similarly, Technavio predicted an 11.6% CAGR from the combination of robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). Research and Markets said the hospitality robotics market could grow at 11.6% between 2022 and 2026, and it named Bear Robotics as a leader in this space.