NEW YORK -- A new kind of server is helping restaurant owners with staffing in New York City, and it's bringing joy to customers along the way.
At dim sum parlors across the city, your typical pushcart is getting a makeover. Put in an order of noodles and it might arrive by cat.
"I think it's very cute, very Asian," Park Slope resident Anna Tokmakoff said.
"I was very surprised to see a robot bring food over to the table," said Kevin Aulbach.
Bellabot -- or Bella, as she's affectionately called -- delivers dishes to and from the kitchen while entertaining guests with jokes and even a birthday song.
Manager Leo Tan added her to the staff at Dimmer and Summer after struggling to hire workers post-pandemic.
"When she walk by, like, face-to-face to you, she will look at you ... which makes people laugh," he told CBS2's Christina Fan.
The Bellabot robots are manufactured by PuDu in Asia, but distributed in the United States by WowRobee.
Business development manager Dee Zhang has sold about 20 in New York City.
"They are helping the staff to take some heavy loads, and also they are helping to lead the customers to get seated," she said.
Models range from $12,000-$16,000.
Rich Yao, who purchased one to run orders between his kitchen and dining room at New Mulan in Flushing, says it's worth every penny.
"Now, you don't have to have somebody go down there to pick up the food. Once the dish is ready, the chef automatically puts it on the robot, so they hit one button," he said.
Bella is programmed with the restaurant's layout and can navigate the floor using laser sensors. Her reaction time is less than half a second.
"She's working here no complaints, no arguments. I tell her where she goes, she will go there ... Best employee," Tan said.
Who brings joy to customers without collecting a salary, enjoying just the occasional head pat.
Waiters are still employed at the restaurants to take orders, handle hot items and clear tables, so tipping is still encouraged -- not needed, though, for the cat.
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