Florida Restaurant Employs Robot Waiter as Staff Shortages Plague Industry

As the hospitality industry continues to experience major staffing shortages, one restaurant is attempting to continue serving customers in a creative way.

Eat District in Boca Raton, Florida, recently introduced a new server named Bella. Developed by Pudu Robotics, she is touted as providing "an unprecedented food delivery robot experience." She debuted this week to Eat District patrons, who reportedly loved the new waiter.

"I thought that was really cool how the robot served the food," one patron told local news station WPBF 25. Another commented on how the robot was able to efficiently deliver food to their table without error.

Bella costs between $10,000 and $20,000 and is one of several similar robots made by Pudu Products.

Bella's debut comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit restaurants nationwide. Newsweek reported that the hospitality industry, which includes restaurants and other food services, experienced the largest growth in resignations in November.

For those who have stayed in the industry, some are having to apply for aid through programs such as the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund in order to make ends meet. Many are contracting COVID-19 due to the highly contagious Omicron variant and allegations of improper safety protocols, prompting an increase in worker strikes across the nation.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that one such strike occurred with the Via 313 Pizzeria in Austin, Texas. More than 30 workers went on strike asking for the enactment of stricter protocols, as well as paid sick leave and hazard pay.

"We want dignity for every employee here and every restaurant worker in the nation," one worker told the newspaper. "We're not asking for anything unreasonable. This is something that exists in our society and companies do offer sick pay and hazard pay for their employees."

Newsweek has reached out to Eat District and the UNITE HERE hospitality union for comment.

Restaurant iStock
One Florida restaurant has introduced a new robot server as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the hospitality industry. iStock