Omaha restaurants turning to robot servers to combat worker shortage

Some Omaha restaurants are turning to robotic wait staff to address shortages in the industry.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 5:39 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - All across the nation, restaurants are struggling to find workers to fill open jobs.

Even here in the metro, businesses are adapting.

Stephanie Goodrich, owner of The Brunch Box in Omaha, says having Bella -- a robot waitress -- is a big help.

“If someone does run late or call in sick we still have someone that can get that food out to the guests so that it’s hot,” Goodrich said.

However, she doesn’t want ‘Bella’ to replace her staff.

“Really to be that tool so that our staff doesn’t feel overwhelmed or stressed has been really nice,” Goodrich said.

With just one click on its touch screen, ‘Bella’ can deliver food and water to any table and even sing “Happy Birthday.”

“A lot of the customers love Bella,” Goodrich said. “They get excited to interact with her and see her.”

62% of restaurants nationwide don’t have enough workers to meet demand, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Scott Parrill is the district manager for Pizza Ranch here in Omaha. They’ve had a robot bussing tables for the last year.

“With technology of a busser, server, robot I foresee this continuing to grow in our business,” Parrill said.

While he agrees it’s been a big help, he doesn’t believe a robot is advanced enough to take over the job entirely.

“Humans are always going to be a major part of the industry and in restaurants,” Parrill said.

For Goodrich, it’s more than just sharing a meal with your friends and family, but rather a whole experience.

“We really want her to be a part of people’s childhood memories and adult memories and have that connection,” Goodrich said.