Yang says while the investment in the robots is significant, it is helping to reassure many of his customers and also to ease the strain on overworked staff.
There are three robots at each of the restaurants. Patrons place their order using the QR code and the robot trundles off to the kitchen, where staff load food aboard which the robot delivers to the table for patrons to take the plates.
Yang opened the Karrinyup restaurant in October last year and business was brisk to start with queues every day until the pandemic started to hit the business, both from a staff and customer perspective. Kevin Shang from Intelligeneer Solution, whose company provided the robots, says for many customers being in a contact-free environment is reassuring.
It's easy to place an order by scanning the QR code.
Since the pandemic began, people have been anxious about attending cafes, bars and restaurants, so the robots create an ideal, safe, contactless go-between customers and staff. Customers can order and pay using QR codes for contactless payment with Apple Pay and Google Pay or by credit card.
When customers finish eating, they can get up and leave, making the whole thing completely contact-free. Yang says that while the primary role of the robots is to provide contact-free dining, they have also eased some of the pressure on over-worked restaurant staff.
Jordan Bruno from Roogenics and development chef Vincent Lim put the robot through its paces.
They don't take the jobs of people and Yang says no jobs have been lost because of them. The robots don't have the skills of a waiter, they can't communicate with patrons and they can't organise orders in the kitchen.
Kevin says they are more like a waiter's assistant, akin to a computer helping with bookkeeping, but never taking away the job of an accountant. With robots doing the menial tasks, it frees up humans to do something more intelligent and more creative than walking to and from the kitchen.
Robots aren't a one-size-fits-all solution for the restaurant industry, but they are part of the whole solution according to Kevin. Before introducing the robots in November last year, Yang says waiters might walk several kilometres a day.
The robots are very efficient. When one leaves the kitchen another takes its place and the third fills the vacant spot. Waiters can now spend more time with customers who want attention and being less tired can do a better job of servicing patrons.
Celebrity cook Jordan Bruno has dishes served by the robots.
Yang has run Authentic Bites for six years with one underground in Allendale Square, one in Northbridge and the new one in Karrinyup. He also operates Juicy Bao Bao in Northbridge and Little Bites on level one of Karrinyup Shopping Centre – on the café terrace.
Authentic Bites Dumpling House specialises in dumplings – specifically the Xiao Long Bao dumplings or Chinese soup dumplings – Shanghai style. Yang says robots have made his staff happier by making their jobs less tiring, and customers, particularly children, love them.
Robots can be seen at Authentic Bites Dumpling House, Shop FC020406 West Deck Ground Floor, Karrinyup Shopping Centre, 200 Karrinyup Rd, Karrinyup; Authentic Bites Dumpling House, 3/145 Newcastle St, Perth and Juicy Bao Bao, 344 William St, Perth.