Jon Taffer warns that staff shortages in restaurants can be solved with AI and robots


May 28, 2023 | 12:20

Restaurants are expected to hit record highs this summer, and as a result Jon Taffer of “Bar Rescue”[ads1]; is sounding the alarm about the labor shortage – a problem being solved with artificial intelligence and robots.

“Since April, we have employed over 900,000 employees. We need much more, but we predict record trips this summer. Record hotel occupancy. The restaurants are booming but we are challenged because we need people to fulfill all the business we have now,” the TV star explained to presenter 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 use it more in the back of the house for purchasing and pricing and things like that. Here I am standing in a SkyTab booth now. These are all new transaction technologies that plug third parties like DoorDash and Uber Eats into the POS system,” Taffer began.

“Frequency programs, credit card programs, everything connected to one system now. And then robotics is huge. Wendy’s is about to launch a chat box program in Europe with automated ordering. It’s the restaurateurs, they’re going crazy already.”

Taffer (C) is seen at 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 customers at the “White Fox” restaurant in the eastern part (left bank of the Tigris River) of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul on November 17, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

Fast-food chain Wendy’s, Taffer noted, announced a new partnership with Pipedream, a company that developed an underground autonomous robotic system that can be used to deliver digital food orders from the kitchen to parking lots in seconds.

The goal, Wendy’s said in a press release, is to provide faster and more convenient pickup experiences.

Wendy’s will be the first fast-casual restaurant to pilot Pipedream’s technology, but likely not the last.

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

Given the labor shortage, Taffer sees AI as a game-changer that will undoubtedly increase profitability.

“Not only that, we can’t find the employees [to] does, so we need to fix the problem. If we can’t solve it with employees, then we go to automation, concluded Taffer.

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