(Bloomberg Opinion) — Covid-19 has scarred us in many ways, but has also created an opening for disruptive technologies and concepts. Could dining in restaurants staffed with robot waiters and chefs be one of them? China may have an answer.
Even before the virus hit, smart restaurants were already springing up in China’s biggest cities. Small talk with waiters was optional, even discouraged, at busy establishments. The Tai Er chain, which specializes in sauerkraut fish, a popular Sichuan-style dish, has diners order directly from the restaurant’s WeChat account. A waiter only comes over to confirm the order and deliver it. The bill is settled with mobile payment apps such as Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat Pay.
In mid-January, the last time I visited my hometown of Shanghai, delivery robots were not an uncommon sight at trendy hot pot restaurants. Designed like tray carts — some even with comical expressions — these