PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When you walk into a Top Burmese restaurant in the Portland area, you might be welcomed by a server who isn’t in the same building as you.
Two Top Burmese locations — N.W. 23rd Ave. and Beaverton — recently debuted a robot that features a person on a screen working from home. The employee can communicate with guests via a microphone or displayed text along with moving around the store to go from one table to another.
The robots have built-in sensors and cameras to navigate safely throughout the restaurant.
“Sometimes [our servers] want to be away for the weekend,” said Kalvin Myint, who is a managing partner at Top Burmese restaurants. “You can be on the beach and just log in for a couple of hours to cover the shift.”
Aside from work-life balance, Myint cited the rising cost of employees commuting to work. He said some servers currently commute from Gresham to Beaverton for a shift.
Myint added that offering this option means employees can save on cost and time.
How does the robot work?
The restaurant says the remote operator controls the robot using a mousepad and the server inputs what table needs service. There’s also an override feature for certain situations.
This also means an employee can jump from one robot to the next in another location in a matter of seconds during a lunch or dinner rush to assist the in-person servers when needed.
“The other side of it, from a guest perspective, you’d have somebody helping you a lot faster,” Myint explained.
The robots, which were purchased from Double Robotics, cost about $6,000 each. The plan is to have the robots at all four Top Burmese restaurant locations, Myint said.
When asked how customers have reacted to the robots so far, Myint replied, “A lot of our customers pull out their phone and snap a picture and they’re like, ‘This is really great.’”
Those aren’t the only robots you’ll find at Top Burmese restaurants. Some locations feature a robot carrying food out to customers or another helping carry heavy dishes for a busser.
As the business hires for remote positions, Myint will be looking for a variety of candidates, including “Gamers — the new generation — it comes so natural just that software controlling with the mousepad and robot and everything.”
Tips will also be given to the virtual staff as if they were on-site along with receiving 50% of the tips if they assist an in-person server half of the time.
If you or anyone else is interested in a remote position with the restaurants, you can email email@example.com.