This Popular Burger Chain Is Expanding a Unique Way Of Serving Guests
The future of restaurants is here, and in some cases, it comes in the form of non-human waitstaff. Beloved burger chain Chili's, for example, is getting a Jetsons-style upgrade. It may not be "Rosey the Robot," but the popular burger chain has expanded its partnership with Bear Robotics to bring "Rita the Robot" to 51 restaurants within the next month.
"Rita-fied" restaurants, as the company is calling them, will use a combination of both Bear Robotic's "Servi" robots and traditional table-side service, according to Restaurant Dive. These 100% self-driving robots can run food and bus tables as well as show customers their seats and pitch specials. The Rita robots are even able to sing "Happy Birthday" and deliver a scoop of ice cream.
Originally, the little server robot had a test run at ten Chili's locations in Texas, Florida, and California, where she debuted in October of 2021. Rita was a big success, with the company finding that 82% of guests felt their experience was better because of Rita and 77% said their server spent more time with them. Additionally, Chili's staff found her presence helpful and enjoyed having her around, according to Wade Allen, Brinker International's SVP of Innovation.
"In the 18 months Rita has been testing in 10 of our restaurants she's proven reliable time after time, she's made the job less strenuous for team members and she's been a hit among guests of all ages," Allen told Restaurant Dive.
Rita will be onboarded at Chili's restaurants around Phoenix, Ariz.; Sacramento, Fresno, and the Bay Area in California; Denver, Colo.; Tampa and Orlando in Florida; Chicago, Ill.; Boston, Mass.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Albany and Syracuse in New York. And she won't need much hand-holding: Chili's management says she requires minimal training and little adaptation from team members as she is able to adjust to her new environments quickly and efficiently.
The company has been promoting the use of technology in its restaurants. It recently implemented handheld server devices and a new curbside pickup system. It has also expanded its relationship with Flytrex in order to offer drone delivery after a pilot program in North Carolina. The company has now been looking to expand drone delivery to Texas.
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