Ocean City restaurant turns to robot waiter for help amid staff shortage
A Jersey Shore restaurant is turning to advanced technology to help get through its current staffing shortage.
Those who stop by the Island Grill in Ocean City for dinner may find that a robot and not a human is delivering their meals to the table.
“Once we realized that we may not have any servers this summer, we were like, ‘Well we may need to look into this a little more,’” says owner Andrew Yoa.
Yoa says that a Google search led him to the new technology. He says that the restaurant is currently leasing the robot, known as “Little Peanut.” The robot serves as a food runner and busboy to help the servers.
“It’s basically extra arms for them so that they could be getting a drink order for someone and the meals for another table could be coming out or an appetizer could be coming out,” says Yoa. “It can do multiple stops so it can stop at one station, drop off an appetizer and go to drop someone’s meal off.”
Yoa says a common misconception about the robot is that it's taking jobs away but they say they currently have more than 60 positions available with no candidates to fill them.
"Usually by this time of the year we probably have over 300 applications. We've had 18 applications since January,” he says.
Yoa says that while Little Peanut will help, he is still looking for other ways to get through the staffing shortage.
"We're just trying our best and I think will be OK, but in the past, we've had an hour or hour and a half waits for tables in normal times. But it may just have to be that some people are going to have to do takeout,” says Yoa. “Or we may just have to open the outside to takeout only, they can pick up their meal and go out kind of picnic-style but that's the times right now."
The restaurant says it's also looking into a robot that would be able to go outside and help its staff with outdoor dining customers.