Restaurant in Rome going A.I.; Waiters, Waitresses and low-skilled jobs will be replaced by robots

By Vincent C. Torrieri

English Training News

ROME – “Nowadays the most difficult thing for a restauranteur is to find good, qualified staff. So I am investing a lot in automation and digitalization,” says Chef Antonello Colonna and Labico restaurant owner. The 63-year-old Gourmet Chef whose restaurant and catering service is located in the suburb of Rome believes A.I. will facilitate customers’ impatient appetites.

No more waiting for waiters and waitresses to take your order but instead, a robot with a touchscreen electronic menu, which will allow customers to take their order which is then relayed to the kitchen where the chef and cooks prepare the orders.

Going digital is in the future plans and in the works for Colonna’s new catering company, who will be launching Open Bistro at Rome’s Termini station at the end of this year with the collaboration of Chef Express and the Cremonini Group.

The cyber fever trend hitting the cuisine has been spreading across the globe. McDonald’s has been installing electronic menu boards and self-serving menu corners for several years allowing customers to order in full autonomy. Starbucks encourages customers to order using their mobile apps and these transactions currently represent 10% of their sales revenue. And a vast number of restaurants opting for microchip services have popped up in Asia and India.

Italian drone champion and mechatronic geek Matteo Barella, 28, dreams about the day he can launch his Speedy Pizza Drone service in Italy. “Right now there is too much bureaucracy and red tape to use drones in Italy,” said Barella. “But sooner or later they will come.”

The cost

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the cost of sophisticated machines has decreased significantly in recent years, falling by 40% since 2005. Meanwhile, labour in the service industry is becoming more expensive due to minimum-wage laws and other employment regulations.

Labour Unions

At war with automation stands Italy’s Cgil and Csil who are pointing out the negative side effects in agriculture and the wine industry. Andrea Perone, 48 from Crocetta, for example, worked in the labeling department for the wine company Villa Sandi, only to find his full-time contract turn to dust. He was made redundant four years ago due to advanced technology.

“The reorganization of the department in the name of greater automation does not justify the cut of Perrone,” stated the Trade Union in a press statement.

Villa Sandi, which has about a hundred employees on the Crocetta del Montello estate, not only uses co-operatives but has been employing some workers who are already retired. In short, if the specific function is now performed by an automatic device, according to the unions, the workers could have been assigned to other tasks.

Moreover, if cashiers and other food and beverage related tasks become fully automated, using digitally payment options via Smartphone is a fait accomplit. Many entrepreneurs have long been claiming that robots will take control of dirty, dangerous or simply boring work, allowing humans to focus on other tasks. But the Villa Sandi situation has proven otherwise.

Written and translated by English Training

with files from ANSA

Bonus video –

Artificial Intelligence will kill us

Written by

Vincent Towerpast

English Language Consultant for Business English courses and Journalist - Foreign Correspòndent