- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

JINAN, CHINA (AP) - Service with a smile also comes with a mechanical voice at the Dalu Robot restaurant, where the hotpot meals are not as famous yet as the staff.

The restaurant is touted as China’s first robot hotpot eatery, where “Star Wars”-like droids circle the room carrying trays of food in a conveyor belt-like system.

More than a dozen robots entertain, serve, greet and receive customers. The eatery opened this month in Jinan in northern Shandong province.

The service industry in China has not always kept up with the country’s rapid economic growth. Some restaurants offer quite basic service, leading Dalu’s customers to praise the robots.


First-time visitor Li Xiaomei says the robots “have a better service attitude than humans.”