Robots help launch Sake Japanese Fusion restaurant at Summit Mall

Table of Contents Restaurants, bars struggling with ongoing worker shortageSake Japanese Fusion features expansive Japanese menuAbout Sake

At the new Sake Japanese Fusion restaurant at Summit Mall in Fairlawn, a cute little robot host named Peanut with a blue shirt and hat works in tandem with a human host, welcoming diners and showing them to their seats.

“Welcome to Sake Japanese Fusion,” Peanut says. After leading guests to their tables, he says: “Destination has arrived. Enjoy your meal.”

The host robot, who holds a screen above his head showing appetizing images of menu items, is the most human-like of the five robots that owners Tiffany and Leo Chen have purchased due to restaurant staffing difficulties plaguing the industry.

The four server robots are sleek, mostly black machines with flashing blue eyes, white sides and four levels of trays on which they carry food to customers’ tables.

Co-owner Tiffany Chen watches as Katie Cox, a server at the new restaurant Sake Japanese Fusion, takes food from a robot to a table.

The owners have invested nearly $20,000 in each of the five robots, which they ordered from Shanghai, China. When the restaurant opens Monday without being at full staff due to the current restaurant labor shortage, the robots can be part of the solution, Tiffany Chen said.

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The new Sake Japanese Fusion at Summit Mall in Fairlawn opens Monday.

When the restaurant gets busy, the little blue-and-white host robot, who has his own charging station around the corner from the host station, will help the most.

“If this robot can just help with seating these people, it saves my host a lot of time,” including freeing its human counterpart to answer the phone, Tiffany Chen said.

Another robot with a door in front will carry to-go bags to customers picking up food at the front of the restaurant. The robots are programmed so they won’t run into people and their voices can be customized.

Listening to them, they seem to take their jobs quite seriously.

Co-owner Tiffany Chen places an order on a server robot at the new restaurant Sake Japanese Fusion.

“I’m not lazy. I’m just looking for a way. Just let me pass,” said a server robot whose path was blocked by two people Thursday, including Tiffany Chen. “I’m just a little Peanut. Pretty and smart. I’m in a hurry.”

The robots, who all go by the brand name Peanut, also can sing a happy birthday song to customers. On Thursday, a server robot sped off after delivering a Volcano Roll to a table of diners, saying, “La, la la, la la. I’m an expert.”