Auto kitchens, robot restaurants, and automated makelines are all buzzwords we are hearing more of in 2023. Articles have been popping up about robot restaurants for the past few years, but many we have read are US-focused. This interesting article about a fully automated restaurant in San Francisco sparked curiosity in the office. We wondered if this incredible but slightly terrifying tech has appeared in the UK yet… Lets take a look.

Robot Waiters 

In 2022 Bella Italia tested Pudu robots in their Winfell Forest Restaurant in the Lake District. They aimed to use robots to support employment following the record shortage of catering staff after Brexit and the pandemic.

The BellaBot, made by the Chinese company Pudu, can carry up to 40kg on four trays and deliver and retrieve plates from tables with help from humans who load and unload its body”.

During the same year, Manchester restaurant Sakura introduced a fleet of Pudu robot Waiters. The all-you-can-eat restaurant was the first of its kind in the North West, multiple reviewers on Trip Advisor exclaim, They only went for the robots” with many agreeing the robots were better than the food itself.

From our research, one robot Waiter can be an investment of around £10,000. While this may seem like a large amount to pay upfront, some businesses simply cant find the staff. This is a great solution if you run a business and have consistent staff shortages.

Our verdict: We imagine robot waiters will become more popular due to the ongoing staffing problems in the catering industry.

Contact-free ordering

We know this isnt new technology, but its worth noting how brilliant contact-free ordering is with McDonalds. Customers can order efficiently through the app or via the huge menu screens inside their restaurants. Research suggests mobile ordering customers spend more, and they are more profitable as they dont require an employee to take the order.

Mcdonalds in the US have been trialling a robot-run restaurant in Texas, customers have no human contact during ordering and collection and they can even order in advance, so their food is Ready on Arrival”. The restaurant is alerted when the customer is 3 minutes away so the food is ready to collect. Looking inside the venue, its quite eerie not seeing the usual hustle and bustle you find in a McDonald’s kitchen.

Do we see this coming to the UK? Yes, we do.

Chef Robots

In June this year, researchers at the University of Cambridge were able to program their chef robot to make 8 simple salad recipes. The video on the BBC website shows the Robot chef working painfully slow, carefully picking up fruit and veg and slowly moving a leaver to dice them, we cant envision it will be taking any fast-paced chef jobs anytime soon!

UK-based company Moley has developed a £50,000 robotic chef who can make your meals without any human intervention… so long as the ingredients are cut up. Communications on the Moley social channels and in the press are a little quiet so we dont see this springing into action and taking over the catering world anytime soon.

Our verdict… We dont imagine robot chefs will be stealing jobs in the UK over the next few years.

EBars and bartender-less pubs

Long queues for drinks at gigs or sporting events can be annoying, especially when you miss a goal while waiting to get served. This is exactly why Sam Pettipher created the EBar, the alcoholic drinks machine pouring pints for the masses – the perfect solution for getting drinks out fast to thousands of people at an event.

Our verdict: We can see this becoming popular with many event venues, but the heart of a good pub or bar will always be the bartenders and the locals who sit and chat in their favourite spots by the bar. We dont see this taking over our locals anytime soon; who wants to sit and talk to a machine?!

In a nutshell, the infusion of robots into the UK catering scene is gaining popularity, tackling staffing challenges courtesy of robot Waiters, and boosting efficiency and customer experience with the pint-pouring EBars.