Are robots the answer to restaurants reopening?

In a marketing coup attracting wide press coverage The Tea Terrace, a business which operates tea rooms in Surrey and London, has acquired a fleet of robot serving staff to help improve social distancing in its restaurants as they re-open following lockdown.

An example of the robotic service of the first robot christened “the Maybot” and programmed to utter “Breakfast means breakfast" is generating views on Youtube, but will it generate customers? Whilst originally acquired as a gimmick, do “humanoid” robots potentially provide cost effective assistance to service under social distancing:

Will they improve customer confidence for socially distanced settings as restaurants come back “online”?

Will they help utilisation of space by allowing restaurants to manage pinch points with robot only zones?

Will they allow a business to open with fewer staff allowing an acceptable margin for a part open business and closer to normal income for the retained staff with one less cut of the tips?

This might seem like science fiction (and restaurateurs will want to avoid paranoid androids) but operating a Covid Secure environment will be incredibly challenging for an industry where profits are often only made when operating at close to full capacity. Government and landlord support may be required but neither are likely to make up the full shortfall. For restauranteurs to re-open and cover their costs radical solutions may be required and for some at least technology will go some way to assist.

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