A robotic waiter joins the staff at a downtown restaurant

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The Golden Wok Buffet and Lounge in Orillia has a new staff member on board, and it’s not humane.

Katty Po, owner of the downtown Chinese food restaurant, ordered a restaurant robot from a company called Pudu after being served one in Toronto.

“I know a lot of people are using robots now because it’s not easy to hire people to work,” she said. “That’s why she can help when we’re busy.”

The robot has personality and charm, she says, noting that she named it Goldie to stay true to the Golden Wok theme.

Goldie can carry four trays of food and is programmed to get from the kitchen to the dining room without bumping into barriers or people.

Goldie can also provide music for guests and is even programmed to sing Happy Birthday to those celebrating their big day at the restaurant.

“Customers like it,” Po said. “I think it surprises people with all the things it can do.”

Goldie can also act as a restaurant hostess and direct people to their tables, which is what the Golden Wok primarily uses her for.

“We always need a server to serve customers,” she said. “We don’t want the customer to take their food from Goldie on their own, especially with COVID-19.”

Goldie has been a big help to the restaurant, Po said, adding that the Golden Wok has been struggling without its buffet, which has been closed since the pandemic began.

“Goldie makes customers happy,” Po said. “The robot is funny, and people have never seen that before.”

Po says some clients even call ahead to make sure Goldie will be charged for their visit. She also says Goldie wasn’t cheap, but it’s a trend that’s becoming popular in restaurants around the world.

“We might even buy more when we open the buffet,” she said. “When we reopen the buffet, we may need more help.”

Po isn’t sure when the popular buffet will reopen at the restaurant at 16 Front St. N., but she hopes it will be sometime in the summer.

“We are still concerned about the pandemic,” she said. “A lot of people are still getting sick and that’s something we really need to think about.” Robotic Server

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