Popular restaurant in Columbus has new technology roaming around

A popular Columbus restaurant has a few new employees... but it's not exactly what you'd expect.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 5:50 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” says Carmen Williams after being seated at her table for lunch by a robot.

Chef Lee’s Peking Restaurant on Bradley Park Drive in Columbus has a few new employees, but it is not what you expect.

Next time you have a taste for egg drop soup or Snow white Chicken from Chef Lee’s, Ruby or Emerald the robots will happily guide you to your seat.

Owner of Chef Lee’s Peking restaurant Harriet Zhu thinks the interaction between the customer and an employee is very important.

So much so, she decided to bring in new technology to improve customer satisfaction, robot hostesses. Zhu shares the robots are there so waiters can spend more time catering to the customers needs.

“They are not replacing the waiter, they are just making the job easier,” says Zhu.

Right now, there are two robots serving as hostesses, Emerald or Ruby. Four or more should start soon to help with take out orders.

Here’s how they work: after you walk in and give the number in your party, a worker gives a code to the robot on which section to seat you in. After that, follow Emerald or Ruby, to the section and free table she guides you to.

“Usually, we will ask them to follow the robot and put the menu on the table.” says Zhu, “When they are following the robot, they are laughing. They bring happiness to the customers,” says Zhu.

Zhu says so far, the robots are the highlight of guests’ dining experience at Chef Lee’s.

“My Husband and I, we’ve been here and seen the robots, but we’ve never been lead to the table by one so it was a nice experience,” says customer Becky Bunting.

“It was not what we expected when we came to lunch, but Ruby was pretty awesome,” says customer Lisa Scully.

The owners say worker shortages has nothing to do with why they brought in the robots. Zhu says Chef Lee’s has been a staple in Columbus since 1998 and she just wants to keep up with the times to ensure the restaurant will be around for many more years to come.

“We have a long history and I want to bring a modern element to this long history restaurant. A lot of places are doing fast in, fast out, and they are using machines. When you go to a lot of these chains, they don’t have cashiers they use machines to help people out, so it’s the trend,” says Zhu.

One customer, Norman Davis, agrees with the restaurant’s decision to bring in what is trending.

“I love the change, I love the update, everything now is robotic, so this fits right in,” says Davis.

If you want to meet Emerald or Ruby and have a neat lunch or dinner experience, Chef Lee’s is open Tuesday thru Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located on 6100 Bradley Park Drive in Columbus.