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Food for Thought: Will technology eliminate waiters?


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I’m visiting Hawaii for a little bit just to get a break from New York and one of my favorite things to eat when I’m home are conveyor belt sushi. Some of the Genki Sushis here have recently undergone a makeover. Gone are the conveyor belts and in its place are rockets and trains, which got me thinking: will we need waiters/waitresses/servers when technology takes over in restaurants?

Before I proceed, watch this video to see how Genki Sushi operates. So while I was there, we sat down at a booth and looked through the menu. All you do is use the touch screen above the table to choose the sushi you want. You can only choose four dishes to be delivered at a time. Then, the workers in the kitchen make the sushi and send it off on a train to your table. It’s really cool, I definitely enjoyed being able to choose whatever I wanted without having human interaction. But, when it was time to pay, I thought, “Do I tip my waiter? What exactly did they do because the trains did all of the work for them?”

Usually, waiters at Genki Sushis would run orders from customers to the kitchen. They still refill waters and they also serve some dishes like dessert to the table. But that’s it. There’s really no need to check on how the customers are doing because if the customers had a problem, they could flag down a waiter by pressing a button.

Waiters are servers are such an essential part of restaurants because they very much play a large part in setting the tone of the restaurant. And they make a living off of tips. But what happens when you eliminate the need for their services? I think this type of technology is a game changer for restaurants and honestly, I don’t think that being a waiter or server can flourish with this new style of service. Technology is both exciting and scary, and I am intrigued to see how this type of service plays out in restaurants.