Meals on wheels the latest trend as Saskatoon restaurant hires robotic server

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WATCH: With the pandemic creating staff shortages in Saskatchewan, one Saskatoon restaurant's serving robot has received a glowing response. – Jan 6, 2022

In the nearly nine years that Sam Yang has owned Yip Hong’s Dim Sum in Saskatoon he’s seen the restaurant undergo many changes, including a jump in real estate.

However the biggest change Yang has made during his tenure as owner is his most recent hire – a service robot named Gina.

“This idea came from the COVID pandemic,” Yang said. “The people want, you know, the social distance. Another thing is the best one, the contactless delivery. It can do all these jobs and still provide the same delicious food for the customer.”

Read more: Delivery robot company temporarily pulls devices off Toronto sidewalks as City considers ban

The robot hails from China and was programmed by a distributor in Regina. The $30,000 price tag may seem steep at first, but it’s a small price to pay considering the staffing issues faced by all in the service industry over the course of the pandemic.

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“I really respect Sam’s decision to purchase Gina because it just makes food service safer for everybody,” said long-time Yip Hong’s customer Monica Goulet. “Not just the (patrons) but the staff as well, it’s important for us all to stay safe during the pandemic.

Gina has been on staff for nearly three weeks and in that short time she’s made a lasting impression on both the customers and staff alike.

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“It was a real delight to meet Gina today and our group is here celebrating, so it’s been a wonderful, fabulous addition to the staff here,” Goulet said. “During this era of COVID everything has taken on a bit of a surrealistic tone, so somehow having a robot here seems to make sense and I think that kind of technology is awesome. I can hardly wait to bring my kids and my grandkids here.”

“It’s really good, the robot helps me to take the food to the customer, it’s very exciting,” long-time server Wendy Yung added with a chuckle.

Read more: Toronto restaurants using robots to serve customers

An appreciative Yang is thankful for the determined efforts provided by his staff throughout the pandemic, enough so that none need worry about job competition with their newest coworker.

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“For my staff right now the robot can take part of the job, especially for the food delivery, it allows them more time to do other jobs,” Yang said. “No staff can lose their jobs to the robot, I will keep all of the staff because they do a good job and know my customers very well.”

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