A robot may be greeting you at the door during your next visit to Chili’s Grill & Bar.
Addressing his company’s partnership with Bear Robotics, Brinker International SVP of Innovation Wade Allen told Fox News Digital that the focus of Rita the Robot is to make jobs "easier" for workers, and stressed that working in a restaurant is "harder than ever before."
"Two years ago, when we started this process, we had this vision of ‘how do we make it just easier for people to want to work in a restaurant?'" Allen said.
"Some of the biggest… most difficult tasks [are] carrying heavy dishes back and forth to the kitchen… walking back and forth a thousand steps, an hour… or more… That's huge volumes."
Allen added that if a team member could take on fewer jobs and leave the more "mundane tasks" to Rita the Robot, it allows their staff to be more engaging with the guests while benefiting the restaurant altogether.
Rita the Robot has four primary tasks when working at the American restaurant chain – guiding guests to their tables, delivering food, carrying the dishes back and singing a birthday greeting for celebrations.
The robot was named Rita since Chili’s prides itself on making the "perfect" margaritas.
Since the robot servers were deemed successful in Chili’s, the franchise expanded Rita the Robot to 51 additional restaurants nationwide.
Despite the U.S. economy experiencing labor shortages across the country, Allen said the robot servers weren’t implemented due to limited staffing.
"The robots aren't autonomous," he explained. "It has to have a team member connected to it… you always have to have a team member there to work that robot, to get them to help and assist."
Since restaurants were one of the most hard-hitting industries impacted by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Wade said that the challenge that the company faced was finding the best way to still serve customers. He noted that the company had "great systems" in place for delivery and take-out options that the business was able to "capitalize on."
Chili’s has seen positive reactions from the robot servers, according to Wade.
"[Rita the Robot] is really fun for the guests," he concluded. "[Customers] see that the team members are embracing it… making jobs easier and making casual dining a better place for everybody."