Food

One of the first robot servers in Houston rolls out at UH’s Eric’s Restaurant

Servi is the newest addition to the team at Eric’s, which is part of the Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership.

Daisy Espinoza / Houston Public Media
Servi is Eric Restaurant’s new server that assists workers by bringing food to tables.

Eric's Restaurant has a new server: it is three-feet-tall and doesn't say much.

Servi is the restaurant's new robot server and was created to "provide memorable dining experiences for customers." It's the first university to use a robot server for its students.

Students interning at Eric's Restaurant as part of the Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership work alongside Servi. Dr. Dennis Reynolds, the Dean of the Hilton College, said their goal was to show students what the future holds with technology.

"Embracing technology is something we've always been doing, but to be the first restaurant in the city of Houston to have a robot was our goal," Reynolds said. "You've seen [the robot] go around the dining room; people just stop talking. And it's like, ‘Oh, I've never seen that.'"

Reynolds said people are now coming to the restaurant to see the robot, and that they have no intention of getting rid of labor because of it. The executive chef at Eric's Restaurant, Tanner Lucas, said the robot serves more as an assistant for its human servers rather than a competitor.

"In the simplest form, it will take the food from the kitchen and take it to the table, but what it's really giving us is the opportunity to stay on the floor and really interact with our guests," Lucas said.

Robots similar to Servi have appeared in other areas of life as well. Some studies conducted with robots have been in senior living facilities, and have been well-received by residents within those communities. However, the Hilton College is mostly concerned with using Servi for the restaurant and considering expanding its use for room service and banquet services.

Servi comes along with other Hilton College renovations such as its recent name change to the "Global Hospitality Leadership" college, and $30 million expansion which should be completed in February.

Today in Houston Newsletter Signup
We're in the process of transitioning services for our Today in Houston newsletter. If you'd like to sign up now, fill out the form below and we will add you as soon as we finish the transition. **Please note** If you are already signed up for the newsletter, you do not need to sign up again. Your subscription will be migrated over.