Customers at a fast-food chain chain in South Korea can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.
No Brand Burger is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.
Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties.
When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.
‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP.
Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions.
Last month, takeout orders at No Brand accounted for 58 percent total sales, up from 42 percent in July, according to the chain’s parent company, Shinsegae Food.
The chain is marketed as an affordable quick-food option, with burgers costing between $1.50 and $4.50.
And it’s slogan is ‘Why pay more? It’s good enough.’
There are 10 No Brand Burger restaurants across Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province.
The eatery’s name, logo and decor are borrowed from the No Brand minimarts that only carry generic goods.
After a recent second wave of coronavirus infections, restaurants in South Korea were only allowed to provide takeout and delivery after 9pm -a restriction that was only lifted Monday.
Other eateries in Asia have started employing robot servers during the pandemic.
In Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers.
Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.
Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.
Initially South Korea had been doing well against the virus, with many crediting the government for instituting an early quarantine, widespread testing and a contact-tracing campaign that included using smartphone GPS and surveillance-camera footage to establish transmission chains, The New York Times reported.
But in August, the number of reported infections nearly doubled, from 56 to 103, in just two days.
Epidemiologists say the spike was fueled by a three-day weekend, a massive anti-government rally and the return of church services.
It reached a peak of 441 cases on August 26 before ticking back down to at least 100 new infections per day.
That month, the health ministry banned large gatherings and shuttered nightclubs, churches and beaches to turn the tide.
‘We are now in a very dangerous situation that could trigger a massive nationwide spread of COVID-19,’ Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said last month when announcing the shutdowns.
To date, the country of 50 million has had 22,504 reported cases of COVID-19 and 367 deaths, 42 of which were in Seoul.