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Stockton Restaurant Hires Robot As Employee Shortage Takes Toll: 'It Is Exhausting.'

STOCKTON (CBS13) - The newest restaurant worker might be a bit stiff without much personality, but more than likely it still wants those tips.

The food gets called out and picked up at the Sugar Mediterranean Bistro in Stockton.  But the way it rolls out and gets delivered is something entirely new.

"It is a lifesaver.  You know, it helps us bring out all of the food," General Manager Ana Ortiz told CBS13. "The table that is closest to the patio, I press 'go' and it will take it right out."

The robot made of food trays is taking a load off Ortiz. As she struggles with a worker shortage, her employees are stretched thin.

"It is exhausting.  It is exhausting, but thank goodness our customers are really good.  We haven't had any complaints," said Ortiz.

Still, Ortiz made the call to hire a high-tech employee. An autonomous tech takes the food straight from the kitchen to a designated area until a server can hand it all out. It saves everyone a lot of time and energy, especially during the lunch rush.  It's some much-needed relief but it's not a replacement. Ortiz says customers will still get one-on-one interaction with employees taking orders and making their drinks.

"No, we don't want to give that up. We love to see our people. We love to see their faces. We love to see them happy and after a while, they become family to us," said Ortiz.

The servers-turned-bartenders needing a break, now have a restaurant robot to the rescue.  Ortiz says she's not sure if other restaurants will follow suit, but she knows it's working for them.

"It makes sense for us right now because of the shortage of employees.  This is the only solution we're finding," said Ortiz.

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