Chili’s Expands Use of Robot Server to 51 Locations
Chili’s is expanding its partnership with Bear Robotics, bringing Rita the Robot to 51 additional locations across eight states over the next month after its trial deployment showed positive results.
The robot has been designed as a kind of hostess, leading guests to tables, singing happy birthday and taking food to tables, and was created to ease pressure on the rest of the workforce and give guests a more attentive experience.
According to the chain, 82% of guests attending a restaurant with a Rita reported a better experience, while 77% said their server spent more time with them.
The original Rita tests took place in Texas, Florida and California. Wade Allen, SVP of innovation at Chili’s parent company Brinker International, says they “hardened the technology” during the 18 month trial period and now are ready to roll out the robot on a wider scale. New deployments will be at various restaurants near Phoenix, Sacramento, Fresno and the Bay Area in California; as well as sites near Denver, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas; and near Albany and Syracuse in New York.
The expansion follows a wider trend of the hospitality sector integrating automated tech into its operations. Brinker International alone has been trialing a variety of technologies at its restaurant locations in the past few years, such as handheld server devices and a curbside pickup system.
The group also expanded its collaboration with Flytrex to include a drone delivery service in Texas and North Carolina. Hospitality robots from Bear Robotics have been deployed in the Denny’s restaurant chain and the company secured $81 million in financing in March to expand its hospitality products.