December 4, 2023


Professional waiter experts

Edinburgh Japanese restaurant introduces ‘Miyako the robot waiter’ to serve customers

Many of us fear the day when our robot overlords take over the earth and force our puny meat vessel bodies into servitude.

But as technology takes over every facet of our lives, could it be that humans and robots work side by side in harmony?

READ MORE – Gordon Ramsay’s Edinburgh restaurant ‘sorry’ over diner’s late £100 beef wellington

Maki & Ramen, on South Bridge street, think they have the answer with their fantastic new robot serving aide – Miyako the Bellabot.

Miyako is understood to be the first of its kind in Scotland and will look to add to the overall dining experience of Maki & Ramens clientele.

Miyako will be used in a way that takes away the mundane jobs like serving so that traditional Irishai (hosts/waiters) can spend more time hosting customers and making their visit as enjoyable as possible.

The robot waiter has a basic set of functions that range from being able to serve multiple tables in one trip through its tray stacking system to singing happy birthday to customers and even telling them off when they are in the way.

The route for the device is pre-programmed so it always knows where it is going.

Chefs and other members of staff will be able to rely on the robot during busy periods to distribute food directly from the kitchen.

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On the roll out of Miyako, Andrew McCall, Maki and Ramen business development associate, said: “The idea is to allow staff to put food on the plate where it will then be transported to customers at their specified table. A server will often accompany Miyako to ensure that our diners get the warm experience that is often afforded by our Irishai. Of course in busy periods there is the scope for Miyako to be able to have the plates loaded by the chef and for customers to be able to take their tray directly when it lights up blue.

“We are able to place several trays on various holders and to programme the robot to be able to follow a predetermined route that has been set by our human servers. This way we can ensure the correct plates are going to the correct place in the correct order. It can also be used to take plates away.

Miyako with one of their human counterparts.
Miyako with one of their human counterparts.

“Miyako also has a lot of character. They will interact with a classical anime voice and will react to customers stroking its ears or patting its head. Alongside this, Miyako will tell people to move if they are in the way of carrying out tasks – not to mention the ability to sing happy birthday on that special day.

“Miyako can also be programmed to speak in various languages so is perfect for a diverse clientele. We hope to use the robot in the future to be able to encourage those using our services to take part in random draws where they could end up winning random prizes like a free Katsu curry.

“We are also looking to introduce sticker instructions to tables so that those visiting are able to use the robot with ease.

“Miyako will come out and serve customers but we are really trying to keep it as a novelty, so we will not overuse it. That being said, we wanted to create a fun and immersive experience for our diners and staff.”

Miyako has had a cyber punk style makeover that was designed by Andrew and he hopes to roll out similar models to other franchises within Maki & Ramen.

Maki & Ramen on South Bridge.
Maki & Ramen on South Bridge.

The motivation to introduce the robot server comes from similar models that are used in Hong Kong, Japan and China where robots are incorporated into everyday life – allegedly without displacing the more traditional staff members.

And as a human, that was my first concern. Is this the slow march towards working class jobs in the hospitality sector being replaced by more affordable robots?

This is something that the restaurant manager Marietta expertly tackled, stating that a robot is no replacement for what human staff members can do, she said: “Staff have been reassured that the introduction of Miyako will not lead to the replacement of staff. Instead it will be used to enrich the experience of staff members by making their life easier.

A case study example of this is if we are really swamped with orders and tables are waiting for food, then we can still provide a rich customer experience without the customer missing their food or it arriving cold, as Miyako can transport. As well as this, it creates fun talking points for the server as they will attend the table to accompany the robot.

“It is cute and fun and in no way a replacement for a good server. Servers can handle things like conflict resolution amongst many other issues that the robot would struggle with.

“It is very Japanese to have robots everywhere. Japan is a good example of how not to replace staff but instead use the relationship between robots and humans to make life easier and so that the customer can have the most personable and fun experience without the novelty ever wearing off.”

You can try the Maki & Ramen robot server on South Bridge street at the franchise store but it must be noted that this is the only restaurant under the Maki & Ramen banner in Scotland that has a Miyako.

Details of the menu can be found online here – with a special recommendation to try the seaweed and the black Tonkotsu from yours truly!