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Jon Taffer warns staff shortages at restaurants might be solved with AI and robots


Restaurants are expected to hit record numbers this summer, and, because of this, “Bar Rescue”‘s Jon Taffer is sounding the alarm on the employee shortage – an issue that’s being solved with artificial intelligence and robots.

“Since April, we’ve hired over 900,000 employees. We want lots more, but we’re forecasting record travel this summer. Record hotel occupancy. Restaurants are booming, but we’re challenged because we’d like people to satisfy all of the business that we’ve now,” the tv star explained to host Stuart Varney.

During his Monday appearance on “Varney & Co.,” Taffer attended the National Restaurant Association Convention, which was heavily centered around robotics and automation technology. 

“In my restaurant business, we’re using it more behind the home for purchasing and pricing and things like that. Here I’m standing in a SkyTab booth now. That is all recent transactional technologies that connects third parties like DoorDash and Uber Eats into the P.O.S. system,” Taffer began.

“Frequency programs, bank card programs, all connected into one system now. After which robotics are huge. Wendy’s is about to launch a chat box program in Europe with automated ordering. There are the restaurateurs, they’re going crazy already.”

Taffer (C) is seen on the ribbon cutting ceremony for his restaurant “Taffer’s Tavern” on April 12, 2021 in Alpharetta, Georgia.Getty Images

A robot waiter carries empty trays after delivering an order to patrons at the A robot waiter carries empty trays after delivering an order to patrons on the “White Fox” restaurant within the eastern part (left bank of the Tigris river) of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul on Nov. 17, 2021.AFP via Getty Images

The fast-food chain Wendy’s, as Taffer noted, announced a recent partnership with Pipedream, an organization that developed an underground autonomous robot system that could be used to deliver digital food orders from the kitchen to parking spaces inside seconds.

The goal, Wendy’s said in a press release, is to supply faster and more convenient pick-up experiences.

Wendy’s can be the primary quick-service restaurant to pilot Pipedream’s technology, but likely not the last.

Based on Varney, artificial intelligence has been largely perceived as a “negative threat” to humanity.

Given the employee shortage, Taffer sees A.I. as a game-changer that may undoubtedly enhance profitability. 

“Not only that, we are able to’t find the workers [to] do it, so we’ve to unravel the issue. If we are able to’t solve it with employees, then we’re going to go to automation,” Taffer concluded.

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