This Quebec Restaurant Can't Find Enough Staff So They Got A Robotic Cat Instead (VIDEOS)

If you've noticed "Closed due to staff shortage" signs on the windows of your favourite restaurants lately, then you've seen the effects of the labour shortage first hand. But one Quebec restaurant has found a unique solution: "hiring" a robot cat.

The BellaBot, as it's called, has been serving customers at Gatineau brunch joint La Buena Déjeuner for two weeks. It can carry up to eight plates from the kitchen to a customer's table, according to owner Elie Maalouf.


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"When the cook finishes the order [...] you load up the robot with the food and then you enter the table number," Maalouf explained. "It goes all the way to the table."

Maalouf said servers still unload the food from the robot's trays onto customers' tables, but he said the BellaBot takes on a considerable amount of the staff's workload throughout the day, making their shifts easier.

It can also be set up to work by the door as a host(ess) seating people.

But the BellaBot doesn't just work — it meows when you pet it, sings "Happy Birthday," and more.

Maalouf said he found the BellaBot while researching a solution when his staff of 16 employees dropped down to four — including his wife and sister — in May. It's made by Chinese robotics company Pudu.

He wouldn't say exactly how much it cost but he did say it was a "really expensive" investment that, so far, is paying off.

"It's been great, honestly," he said. "Customers react nicely to it, my employees love it."

At the same time, he said the BellaBot will "never replace a waiter, it will never replace the employee."

"A robot is not going to come and ask you if everything's OK. It's not going to come and ask you if you would like some more to drink. If you have something wrong [...] it's not the robot that can assist you."

La Buena confirmed that the BellaBot will be a permanent fixture at its restaurant, so if you ever want to get served by a robotic cat you know where to go. The future is here right meow.

In Quebec, a vaccine passport is required to access many businesses and activities deemed non-essential, including restaurants and bars.