Aurora restaurant hires robot server

Robot "Giada" Becomes a Server in a Restaurant

AURORA, Neb. (KLKN)-“Help Wanted.”  It’s a phrase many business owners have been advertising for months.  After workers at a small family-owned restaurant in Aurora took on some daily overtime, the owners took matters into their own hands to help alleviate the stress, and reduce burnout.

The owners of Jojo’s Gelato and Grill aren’t strangers to stepping outside of the box and being creative.  They were the first restaurant to offer gelato in Aurora Nebraska, and now they are the first known restaurant in the entire state to hire a new kind of server.

“It has been a huge struggle. We went about two or three months without a single applicant,” said Marni Danhauer Co-Owner of Jojo’s Gelato and Grill.

After struggling to find people to work for them, the owners, Marni and Jim hired a robot to deliver orders to customers.

“We already now are closed one day a week because of staffing issues. Servi just really takes that pressure off of our servers,” said Marni Danhauer.

On top of the staffing shortage, most of America is experiencing, having a small business in a small town poses its own set of struggles.

“We currently have about half of the staff we really need. A part of that is we rely a lot on high school labor, and you know they are out for sports, especially in a small town and so at any given time, half of our high school labor is unavailable to work,” said Marni Danhauer.

For most customers, it’s a surprise to be served by a robot, which puts a smile on their face.  For those who fear robots will be replacing humans, the owners have no plans for that.

“We still feel like we want to be careful not to lose that personal touch. Sometimes we forget silverware, or we forgot a straw or something, so we need to be checking on those tables, and Servi can’t do that. She is defiantly not replacing anyone in particular, but she is taking a load off of the staff we have,” said Marni Danhauer.

During a busy rush of hungry customers, Servi can also take dirty dishes back to the dishwasher.

“It reduces that workload by about half because it doesn’t take as much time. You are not running back and forth as many times you know to the kitchen and back to the tables, so it’s been a great edition,” said Marni Danhauer.

As many locations are having to reduce hours, or close due to a shortage of workers, some business owners have reached out to Marni and Jim, to see how a robot might help them keep their doors open.

“We’ve had 3 phone calls on the robot so far.  One in Broken Bow, I think it was a dairy queen there.  He actually checked into it and is thinking about getting a robot also,” said Jim Danhauer Co-Owner Jojo’s Gelato and Grill.

Servi, which the staff has renamed as Giada, has been working for about a month, and there are no plans of her going anywhere.  They are still looking to hire staff.

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