Robotic servers lend helping hand at Memphis Mexican restaurant

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 7:27 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Sometimes the lunchtime rush at El Porton can be overwhelming. To combat this, the Mexican restaurant off Poplar and Highland rolled out an unconventional pair of helping hands.

The cute, cat-like robots are called Bellabots.

“We got these robots three months ago. They help bring the food out to the tables and they entertain the customers,” said Courtney Riddell, an El Porton server.

The robotic servers run seven days a week and are programmed to zip around and carry food.

They even sing Happy Birthday.

Customers say they love the electronic wait staff.

“I thought it was a great experience. Bella has a nice addition to the restaurant,” said customer Buz Smith.

Another El Porton patron added, “It was unexpected. I didn’t expect a robot to just come out of nowhere and deliver my food, and it was nice,” Orlando Harris said.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the hi-tech help comes at a time of need:

  • More than 6 in 10 restaurants are short-staffed
  • 63% of operators say they don’t have enough staff to support customer demands
  • 79% of restaurant operators report difficulty filling job openings

Servers say each robot helps to lighten their load.

“We can interact with [the robot’s] customers a lot better because she’s running the food and we don’t have to stop with our customer to go get food, and the food doesn’t get cold,” said Riddell.

So if the next time El Porton’s find themselves short-staffed, Bella the cat-like servin’ robot is ready to roll in to help fill the gaps.

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