Bella Italia trials robot waiter to support restaurant staff
Bella Italia has begun trialling a robot waiter in one of its restaurants to help support staff.
The ‘BellaBot' is being used at its Center Parcs Whinfell Forest site, which was chosen due to having a long distance between its kitchen and dining tables.
Staff can load plates into four shelves in the ‘body' of the robot, which then delivers food to diners and can communicate to encourage customers to take their dishes.
Big Table Group, which operates both Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge, has partnered with commercial service robot developer Pudu Robotics for the trial.
In Bella Italia, the ‘BellaBot' rotates to the side of the table to allow staff to hand over dishes. It can be programmed to display custom words on its frame for special occasions and sing ‘Happy Birthday' to guests.
Lisa Gibbons, chief operating officer at Bella Italia, said: "By having intelligent robots conduct simple tasks, such as retrieving dirty dishes, our teams are able to focus on doing what they love and delivering an amazing experience.
"It's still early days in the trial, but we're looking forward to seeing the impact that having an extra pair of ‘paws' has on dining satisfaction."
The trial comes amid a major recruitment crisis for the industry, which hospitality operators told The Caterer was leaving teams "on their knees" and struggling with poor mental health.
Boparan Restaurant Group has also begun introducing service robots in its Slim Chickens restaurants in Guildford and London's Cambridge Circus, which are used to carry packaged meals to delivery couriers and dishes to customers' tables.
Peter Shaw, sales development manager for Pudu Robotics, said: "Big Table Group are interested in their teams giving guests a great time, not in how many plates they can carry.
"We're grateful for the opportunity to work with Bella Italia, and we're looking forward to seeing the BellaBot make teams' lives easier, and improve the experience of their customers."