Collier County restaurant employs robots amid staffing shortage while entertaining guests

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo
Published: Updated:
Robots working at Brooks Burgers in Collier County.

Robots are taking over, at least at one Southwest Florida restaurant. Why Brooks Burgers deployed robots to help during the pandemic, and why others could be following suit.

Now Hiring, hiring today, sign-on bonus: those are some of the signs you see in restaurant windows and retail stores. But with longing staffing shortages, employers are having to turn to technology to bridge the gap.

It could be a window into the future; robots can serve customers, clean the tables and even mix drinks.

They don’t come cheap, but the owner of Brooks Grill and Tavern at 2220 Logan Blvd N, Suite 805, in Collier County, said it’d pay for itself pretty quickly.

Customers say they can’t get enough of their new server. Jean Gifts, a Brooks Burgers customer, said, “Oh, I thought it was cute, I really thought it was neat,” 
when she saw it in action for the first time.

“I think the coolest thing is in addition to bringing the food; the robot can also talk to you. I’ve even seen some people patting it, and it kind of purrs like a cat and makes little comments you and stuff, so it’s entertainment with your meal,” explained customer Adam Hobson, a regular.

It’s fun for customers Brooks said with a lack of staff and no lack of customers, the robot was a solution to his problems.

They said they were closing 30% of their restaurant almost every night because they didn’t have staff. But now the servers have an extra hand, and the grill and tavern can run at full capacity.

Brooks Grill and Tavern server Steven Campbell explained, “You could take out one thing instead of taking like three people to run one thing of food. Just send them a bill bot and it gets done.”

The robot can work for 15 hours straight and can handle up to three tables at a time. 

Todd Brooks said he has eight robots in his three restaurants. A bus bot is on its way and he’s looking into an automated bartender.

The server robot runs $15,000 each, but Brooks said if it can allow him to serve more customers, it’s worth it.

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