A Korean family-owned restaurant on the Coquitlam–Burnaby border has joined the high-tech revolution.
Instead of a server bringing your meal of ramen, sushi rolls or a chicken teryaki bento box at Bento Nara in The City of Lougheed shopping mall on Austin Avenue, a singing kitty robot will do the job.
Young Kim, who has owned the eatery on the lower floor of the mall for four years, and worked at the shop for three years prior, said the automated server gives her an extra hand when she needs it.
"The robot does the labour," said Kim.
As a long-time restaurant owner and former teacher, Kim said she was reluctant to try the computerized robot because she is not good with technology; however, she tried it out late last year and found that customers enjoyed the novelty.
Children who were playing at the mall's indoor playground would want to see the robot and their parents would bring them by and order a meal, she said.
BellaBot, as the robot is known, can also sing songs such as Happy Birthday and, with her furry paws and tail, is a terrific greeter for the small eatery.
But be warned: Bella has different facial expressions, and looks "angry" if you pet her ear too much.
Still, she wears a colourful tuxedo for Valentines Day, and Kim added the tail and furry paws to make her look more "friendly."
Customers order their meal from a kiosk at the front of the shop and Bella is programmed to carry the food to a table.
Bella will also ask your name and wants to be your friend: For this reporter ordering a plate of California rolls, she seemed charming — a cross between Rosey the Robot from The Jetsons cartoon and Hello Kitty.
"She does everything," said Kim.
"When someone asks for a spoon or something, she does it every time — no complaints."
Finding servers has been challenging for the business, as the tips are small and the meals are simple; Bella appears to fill in the labour gap, allowing Kim to help out customers placing their online order.
The food, meanwhile, is Japanese style and served hot with tea while customers seem to get a kick out of a robot serving them a meal.
"It will be the new boyfriend or girlfriend," one customer joked as Bella thanked him for his order.
Kim agreed that the robot makes people happy and, for her, that's the most important thing.
"The food is good but people also want to be happy, whether they be children, mothers or seniors."
And you don't have to dine in; Bella will also bring your order out into the mall for pick up, flashing her pink ears and her charming smile.