Business is booming at a Port Fairy restaurant thanks to its new robot waiter.
The AI-run BellaBot has been serving customers at Alexo Pizza and Bistro on Sackville Street since February.
Having brought it in on a three-month trial, owner Alex Hutabarat has decided to keep the robot.
Mr Hutabarat said the novelty of a robot waiter had been a big draw for customers.
"It's become like a tourist attraction, a lot of people come in to experience it," he told The Standard.
"We had a group of people from Moyne Health Services and specifically when they booked, all the residents wanted to come and meet Bella."
IN OTHER NEWS
Mr Hutabarat will have the system for the next three years, after which he said he could buy it for $5000.
"But if in three years' time something smarter will come, I might go get it," he said.
Until then, Alexo's will be charged around $150 a week for the lease, amounting to over $20,000 over the three-year period.
Mr Hutabarat said the cost was more than worth it.
"I think it's fair, because waiters cost at least $350-$450 for a casual rate every week," he said.
The restaurant bought Bella in response to staff shortages in Port Fairy. With winter around the corner, Mr Hutabarat said business had slowed down in recent months.
"We're OK at the moment, we have enough. It's been a bit quiet after the May races," he said.
The chef said the robot had no issues so long as he remembered to charge it.
"It's kind of like an electric car, if you charge it you can go anywhere," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.