Rise of the Machines – Korean BBQ Edition

By Evan Henerson

The robots have arrived and they’re armed with … smoked garlic pork belly?

If Eater: Los Angelesis to be believed, the arrival of intensely automated services at GEN Korean BBQ House means that the City of the Angles is “doomed.”

“The local chain means well,” writes Farley Elliott, “but their new Montclair outlet must have sinister plans on the horizon after unveiling a gleaming robot food delivery system that actually drops plates off right at every individual table.”

Sinister for their workforce, perhaps, although the accompanying video by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin shows a couple of GEN’s corporate types proudly showing off their BBQ-bearing ‘bots. Clearly the restaurants general manager and senior corporate manager aren’t worried about the fate of their jobs. They claim that employee jobs are not at risk and that the restaurant’s robots (a series of wheeled carts that bring the food to your table) will help the servers as well as delight the customers.

The Bulletin quotes Jay Prag, a professor of economics and finance at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management, who advises restaurant-goers to get used to seeing these kinds of innovations.

From Neil Nisperos’ article:

“There will ultimately be fewer jobs in the industry,” Prag said. “They won’t go quickly because people still like having a face to face encounter with a human waiter, but one waiter will be able to do many more tables because of the technological innovation.”

While many industries are expecting increasing robotics and automation in the workplace to replace jobs, [GEN Senior Corporate Manager David] Ghim said that’s not what the company intends to do with its introduction of robot servers at the Montclair location. The Montclair location employs 150 — not including the robots who assist.

It’s going to take awhile for us to rid our minds of former Labor Secretary candidate and Carl’s Jr. honcho Andrew Puzder who dreamed of a fully automated restaurant where the workers “are always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

And, no, we don’t always like those machines as our spring petition against Self-Checkout Machines demonstrated.

Read the full IVDB article here.

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