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California restaurant hires robot to offset worker shortage

July 29 (UPI) -- A California restaurant struggling with a worker shortage is employing a food delivery robot to help pick up the slack.

The Sugar Mediterranean Bistro in Stockton unveiled the newest member of its staff, a food-carrying robot, in a Facebook video.

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"Look at our new team member," the post said.

General Manager Ana Ortiz said the restaurant purchased the robot to ease the burden on staff amid a worker shortage.

"It is a lifesaver. You know, it helps us bring out all of the food," Ortiz told KOVR-TV. "The table that is closest to the patio, I press 'go' and it will take it right out."

She said the robot helps carry food, but customers still get face-to-face interactions with their servers.

"No, we don't want to give that up. We love to see our people. We love to see their faces. We love to see them happy and after a while, they become family to us," Ortiz said.

Ortiz said the eatery is still looking to fill the vacant server and bartender positions.

"This thing by no means replaces an employee. By no means is it taking somebody's job away, because we still want to hire people. We still want people to come in and work with us," Ortiz told KCRA-TV.

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The restaurant is currently taking name suggestions for the robot from customers.

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