Sudbury restaurant first in the city to get robotic waiter

Robot servers are gaining popularity in the food service industry and now a restaurant in Sudbury has added one to its staff.

The new employee at 7 Star Dumpling House restaurant on Lasalle Boulevard in Sudbury is a robot that brings food and drinks to tables, greets guests and sings 'Happy Birthday' to customers.

The restaurant said purchasing the robot was an easy decision, especially with everything going on during the pandemic.

"We want to try to make it more healthy for the environment. When the machine is serving the customer, they don’t have too much touch and communication so it’s more safety," said Liwei Zhang, the manager of 7 Star Dumpling House.

"This is the first robot to serve a table in Sudbury, and it can bring surprise to the customer."

Zhang said it comes in handy when the restaurant is busy and not enough hands are available.

"When the food is ready, sometimes I don’t have time to immediately serve a table," he said.

"So, right now I can just put any dish on the tray for the machine so this guy can help me out to serve a table and bring the fresh food to the customer."

The robots cost about $23,000 and are distributed by Sparc Technologies. The company specializes in robotics, technology and advanced systems.

Officials said demand for the robots is growing across the country, including here in Ontario.

"The demand is picking up every day," said Shane Connolly, CEO of Sparc Technologies.

"When we first started it, we were building it, but now we’re just hiring and hiring more to try to keep up. There is a big demand out there for Ontario and Quebec, and it just keeps growing and growing."

Connolly said they have back orders and there's a two- or three-week wait for new customers. Rather than replacing humans, he said they are helping them.

"People think that these robots are replacing people but they’re not," he said.

"They can’t do anything without a human.”

Back in Sudbury, 7 Star Dumpling House is already considering buying another robot server for its second location on Regent Street.