At coming Delaware restaurant, robots will greet and serve diners

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Guang Chen, who also owns Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet in Glasgow, is planning to open a restaurant near Newark where robots will seat and serve patrons. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Guang Chen, who also owns Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet in Glasgow, is planning to open a restaurant near Newark where robots will seat and serve patrons. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Robotics continues to become more of a force in today’s workplaces and homes. Robots make cars, assist police in dangerous situations — and even take room service to hotel guests.

And in Delaware, a soon-to-debut seafood restaurant plans to have robots take diners to their seats and serve their food.

Guang Chen, who runs another restaurant near Newark, got the idea of using robots during a recent visit to China. So when he took out a lease at the former Soffrito’s Italian restaurant on Kirkwood Highway near Newark, he decided to give it a try.

Robots will greet, seat and serve customers at Guang Chen’s planned restaurant near Newark, Delaware. (Courtesy of Guang Chen)

The robots cost about $20,000 apiece. Chen will have four at his eatery, which he plans to call Captain Crab and Seafood.

“The customer comes in, we got a robot to say, ‘Hi, how are you? How can I help you?,’” the native of China said. “And then, if a customer wants to eat in here, then the robot will bring the customer to the table.”

Once seated, the diner will have the option to order from a human server or use an iPad.

And then the order is sent to the kitchen,’’ Chen said. “Kitchen can put the food in the robot. Robot automatically brings the food to the customer at the table.”

Real estate agent Joseph Latina, who connected Chen to the location, said he thinks customers will want to experience robot service. It’s becoming popular in China and is used in a few eateries in Canada and the U.S.

“It’s going to be cool. It really is a gimmick, marketing. If it truly helps get the food out fast and quicker,” said Latina. “I don’t know, but I guess we’ll all figure it out when they open.”

Chen said he hopes to open by June.

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