Sophie Bolich

Here’s Milwaukee’s First Robot Waiter

Servi the cyborg assistant delivers drinks, clears tables at State Street Pizza Pub.

By - Sep 20th, 2022 05:11 pm
State Street Pizza Staff and Servi. Photo courtesy of State Street Pizza Pub.

State Street Pizza Staff and Servi. Photo courtesy of State Street Pizza Pub.

Robots work on assembly lines, perform surgeries and make scam phone calls — and now one is ferrying food and drinks to guests at State Street Pizza Pub.

Named Servi, the cyborg assists the team at the downtown pizza parlor with simple tasks, allowing the staff more time to interact with customers. State Street Pizza Pub is located one block away from Fiserv Forum at 322 W. State St.

“We were approached by Bear Robotics a few months ago and they thought our floor plan, location, and menu would be ideal for their first robot in downtown Milwaukee” said owner Jake Dehne in a statement. “State Street Pizza Pub is the perfect destination to meet up with friends and family before or after a Fiserv or Panther Arena event, game day celebrations or late night pizza and now our staff can spend more time with customers instead of running dishes to the dishwasher or food to the table.”

The name Servi is a placeholder, as State Street Pizza Pub is holding a contest to find the ideal name for the robot. A lucky winner will receive free pizza for a month.

Trumaine Thomas, a server at the restaurant, praised the robot’s services.

“It’s a good assistant and it really helps out when we are super busy,” he said.

Servi is the fourth-generation service robot by Bear Robotics and is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation Institute.

Standing just over three feet tall with a 17-inch base, Servi is roughly the size of a four-year-old child — and probably just as coordinated, due to an advanced sensor system and cameras to power its self-driving capabilities.

Aside from helping with monotonous tasks like bussing tables and delivering drinks, Servi attracts customers with its novelty. It can even be programmed to sing Happy Birthday to customers, according to James Sanchez, operating partner at State Street Pizza Pub.

“Customers find Servi to be really cool and people are always taking pictures with it, too,” he added.

The national chain Chili’s had been trialing a similar service bot, Rita, but decided in August not to move forward with the program.

Closer to home, Marquette University has deployed a fleet of Kiwibots, which deliver meals across campus to students who place orders via an app.

The latest wave of food service robots comes amid a major staffing shortage that has been plaguing restaurants since the pandemic, forcing many local establishments to close temporarily or even permanently.

Bear Robotics charges a $999 monthly fee for Servi.

State Street Pizza Pub’s new addition brings efficiency to the already streamlined restaurant, which is known for preparing personal pies in under 10 minutes. The restaurant also serves as a sports bar — featuring 16 TVs and offering a variety of beer, tequila, seltzers and cocktails.

Owner Jake Dehne’s other credits include Red, White and Blue (RWB Milwaukee) and Buckhead Back Bar Saloon. His most recent venture, Lucky Clover Irish Pub, opened in August.

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