OMO Teppan and Kitchen’s waiter robots usher in the high-tech future of restaurants

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest issues facing restaurants — beyond closures and service restrictions — has been staffing.

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An industry-wide labor shortage has led to a series of problems, including longer wait times and frustrated customers.

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Eric Sit, owner of OMO Teppan and Kitchen along Macleod Trail, is always on the lookout for new high-tech ways of operating and after a month-long trial, introduced OMOBOT to his customers.

OMOBOT is a waiter robot, a natural progression to the next level of improving his restaurant experience. With the help of the robot, human staff can perform more productive and high-level tasks, which increases their efficiency.

Fascinated by robotics, Sit found a supplier willing to let him test the robot’s benefits.

A computer science graduate from the University of Calgary, he was able to program OMOBOT to retrieve food from the kitchen and deliver it to chefs at each of his 11 Teppanyaki tables, then return for the next order.

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He first had to walk her to each table and back to the kitchen so he could remember the path to the next order, although he was able to deliver multiple orders at once.

After a night at the charging station, it can run for 12 to 15 hours, making over 100 deliveries while reducing up to 10 kilometers of walking for staff in a four-hour shift.

Sit says OMOBOT isn’t meant to replace any of its 40 employees — rather it complements their jobs, allowing them to focus more on supporting customers. It’s ideal for highly skilled chefs who not only cook in front of guests, but deliver tasty, flavorful dishes in an entertaining way.

Other benefits, of course, are that OMOBOT never calls in sick or gets tired after repeatedly going back and forth between the kitchen and the table, and never stops to chat.

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He does have a voice, though – if he senses someone is in his way, he’ll politely ask them to move so he can continue shopping.

Remarks:

• Project Warmth Society of Alberta, a charity founded by lawyer and philanthropist Gordon Hoffman, has been helping Calgarians in need since 1996 and the demand for new and used clothing is stronger than ever. The Calgary Fire Department has worked hand in hand with the charity for many years accepting donations at local fire stations. Due to the pandemic, drop-off points have been reduced to four, but the good news is that all stations once again have drop-off bins at their doorsteps. Plastic bags or boxes can be dropped off at any station, labeled Project Warmth.

• Wellspring Calgary joins forces with its Edmonton counterpart to form Wellspring Alberta, becoming a stronger, more unified cancer support organization across the province. “Given the synergies between the two organizations, we see this union as a logical way to bolster our resources, capitalize on our efficiencies and come together to amplify our mission to provide vital services to the rapidly expanding population of people and of their families living with cancer. across Alberta,” said Bill Gilliland, Chair of the Calgary Board of Directors.

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Natalie Noble, CEO of Wellspring Calgary and now CEO of Wellspring Alberta, said, “As demand for our services reaches new heights, we have continued to evolve to ensure we have the capacity and resources to handle non-medical aspects of a cancer diagnosis”.

Founded as a charity with a vision to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone, Wellspring Calgary has operated in Calgary and the region at its North West facility since 2007. A second permanent location in the city’s south was added in 2019 to help meet the growing demand for services in southern Alberta. Wellspring Edmonton was launched in 2017 and was gaining momentum just as the pandemic hit.

Over the past two years, the two Wellspring affiliates have eliminated geographic barriers by moving programs and services online, and now provide in-person and online support.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at info@davidparker.ca.

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