Inside Bengaluru’s first Robot Restaurant

Ralph Alex Arakal
Arya, a robot in Bangalore’s Robot Restaurant delivers a birthday cake to a visitor in the Indiranagar restaurant. Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal

Arya, Ramya, Zoey, Alice, and Sansa may sound like characters from a fantasy series but the five wait tables at a restaurant in Bengaluru’s Indranagar. However, in these parts of the capital city, they remain the biggest draw, especially with the kids. They are humanoids shipped in from China at a cost of around Rs 1.8 lakh each.

Since Robot Restaurant’s official launch on August 18, thousands from Bengaluru, some even from the outskirts of the city, have already visited the place.

"An average of 500 to 600 people visit the restaurant per day in a matter of seven hours and we are delighted to see how excited everyone is. We have had no free minute at work since the launch," says Karthikeyan Ramesh, general manager of the restaurant. He added that the success of the brand in Chennai and Coimbatore led them to expand the business.

Arya, Ramya, Zoey, Alice, and Sansa serve food while another robot welcomes guests at the entrance of the restaurant.

Robots queue up in the kitchen waiting for food to be prepared, to serve to the visitors in the Bangalore Robot Restaurant. Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal

"You need not travel abroad to experience this as we have this technology serving us in our hometown itself. I have been waiting for this for quite some time now and being served by these robots is exciting," Pavitra VN, a homeo doctor said while savouring the food served by Ramya.

The menu served at the restaurant largely comprises of Indo-Asian cuisine along with an exotic mocktail menu. "We had no major expectation for the taste of the foods served here as we thought their uniqueness would be in only being tech-savvy. Our first visit here has been worth it as the foods served by the robots was tasty as well," Pradeep Padmarajaiah, a software engineer said.

The restaurant, which can seat up to 50 visitors, was designed with extra space between the aisles to help the robots seamlessly navigate.

Each table is equipped with a digital tablet through which dishes can be selected and ordered. Once the food is prepared, a robot is assigned to deliver the food to the table.

The Android-run robots which run on Japanese technology were imported from China, Venkatesh Rajendran, founder of the restaurant told "We have been getting requests and invitations from across the country to begin operations for a similar restaurant. As of now, we have planned to begin the same abroad – in the Middle East – one in Saudi Arabia and another one in Dubai as well," he said.

He added that another 4 to 5 branches would be set up in Bengaluru owing to the business’ resounding success and high demand in the city since its beginning.

The robots have also been equipped with built-in facial recognition technology and can sing birthday wishes for those celebrating their special day at the restaurant.

Mrudhulla Putta said, "It was a great surprise that a robot got my birthday cake this time, apart from the usual scenes. She (Arya the robot) even sang birthday wishes for me as I cut the cake."

Children pose for a photograph with a robot in the restaurant. Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal

"This is the first time I am seeing a robot in life. I like the fact that they speak to us asking us to move if we are on the way. The way they come to us to serve food is also very cute," Laya Lehaa Dinesh, a seven-year-old visitor said.

At the same time, the staff at the restaurant have been specially trained to handle the robots in case of malfunction. "We have been used to them since 2017 and over time, each member of our staff has gained expertise in operating and handling the robots," Karthikeyan added.

The restaurant is located on 100-feet road in Indranagar and is open for lunch from 12 noon to 3 pm and from 7 pm to 11 pm for dinner.