Sunday, January 16, 2022


Roadside dining: Bring on the robots!

By Chuck Woodbury

FoodOne of my very favorite things to do on a road trip is to dine at roadside eateries — mom-and-pop cafes that have been around for decades. The very best ones, in my opinion, are the ones where the waitresses have been there “forever” as well. I am not being sexist by saying “waitresses” instead of food servers for the simple reason that 99 percent of the time the servers are women.

These cafes are one of a kind. There are no cookie cutter floor plans and familiar logos like those of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Denny’s and the like.

William Least Heat-Moon, in his book Blue Highways, liked to rate the small cafes by how many calendars were on the wall. If there were four, he figured it was a good place to eat.

Sadly, it’s increasingly difficult to even find these old places. So we’re stuck with the same ol’ franchises wherever we go. Most are self-service — place your order at a counter, wait a few minutes, and then take it to a table. Some restaurants, like Denny’s, still have servers. But, maybe not for long. Enter robots!

In Dallas, she has a name, Janet. She’ll deliver your meal right to your table.

Some people aren’t happy being served by a robot. But, as you will learn in this short TV news segment, there are good reasons why restaurants are experimenting with this technology.

Watch the video. What do you think? Please leave a comment.



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Gary G
1 month ago

I hate that truck stops have gone to “fast food” type restaurants, at least in the west. I miss the great food and the even better waitresses. As the saying goes “a good waitress is worth her weight in gold”, just for the conversation they give.

1 month ago

I have a simple rule. If a place requires me to speak to a machine, or learn the software and perform data entry at its kiosk, they need to pay me for my time. Otherwise I’m rolling on. Plenty of parking lots out there to fix a sandwich in the coach.

Judy G
1 month ago

In many states the minimum wage (the amount the employer must pay) is only $2.13 per hour. The assumption is that customers will generously make up the difference for a ‘living wage’. Would you take a job like that???

Seann Fox
1 month ago

TIPS… A good waiter/waitress can earn 3-4 times their hourly wage. Only the bad ones make minimum wage

Mike Schwab
1 month ago

Local Springfield IL restaurants stay open by offering a meal that chains don’t. A horseshoe sandwich. Basically a plain meat sandwich, but instead of a top bun, welsh rarebit cheese fries.