Catfish Willy’s debuts robotic server in grand reopening

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Evansville seafood restaurant Catfish Willy’s Seafood and Comfort Cuisine celebrated its grand re-opening on Wednesday with not only a new menu, but a cutting edge new way of serving customers.

You can call it “Keenon” – a robot designed to assist servers and increase the efficiency that people get their food. Built by Keenon Robotics and supplied by startup Useabot, the hope is that the android will provide a helping hand to staff as they cater to customer needs.

“Once it’s set and in the kitchen, it can go up to 20 different locations at once on multi-delivery mode, so that does obviously help with the customer not waiting as much for their order,” says Useabot Founder and CEO Aaron Oesterreich.

Catfish Willy’s is the first establishment in the Tri-State to adopt the new technology.

Management says the idea is not to replace human servers, but to make things easier for both them and the customers.

“If we have a big party, sometimes they (the servers) can’t carry six plates, so it was just like, what can we do? What the robot will do is if the server only has two hands, and she’s got two plates, the robot can bring the rest of the plates out for her,” says Catfish Willy’s manager and chef Lee McKenzie.

This should mean less wait time for hungry diners, and more time for kitchen staff to prepare food and keep things running smoothly. For Catfish Willy’s, it adds a unique new element to the dining experience that management feels that patrons will appreciate.

“Once people see it’s not taking jobs away – it’s kind of fun.. Like if its someone’s birthday, it will sing “Happy Birthday” or something like that, so it’s pretty cool. I think people will like it,” says McKenzie.

The move comes as restaurants try to figure out how to adapt amidst a nationwide labor shortage in the service industry.