A robot waiter could serve you your next cocktail at this City Group restaurant

If you’ve dined at Rouj Creole on Bluebonnet Boulevard during the past couple weeks, you might have been surprised when a robot brought over your drink order.

The restaurant, part of City Group Hospitality, is testing a BellaBot in hopes of improving service amid staff shortages and rising costs.

“It’s been fascinating to watch the customers’ response to it,” City Group’s Stephen Hightower says. “The majority of people are enamored with it.”

The restaurant is using the robot as a drink carrier and busboy. It can drive over to the bar, where the server punches in the table number and loads the drinks, and navigate itself to the right pre-programmed spot while sensing movement to avoid bumping into people.

There are also additional bells and whistles, such as the ability to sing “Happy Birthday,” Hightower adds.

While purchasing the robot after the free trial would cost almost $20,000, he says, it could still be worth it over time if it speeds up service and saves labor costs. If the first drink gets there sooner, the customer might be more inclined to order a second drink.

“We’re still not fully staffed,” he says. “I’m in the people business, and I want people, ultimately.”

This story originally appeared in a Nov, 3 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.