Midtown Tavern welcomes the metro's first robotic server

Bella assists the wait staff by carrying food and drinks to tables at Midtown Tavern in Moorhead.

Bella's screen displays the face of a cat as it delivers food to tables.
Finn Harrison / WDAY News.

MOORHEAD — First there were roller skates to make things a little more efficient at a restaurant. Now, there are robots. Midtown Tavern in Moorhead is pioneering a technological wave into the restaurant scene throughout our region with a new robot helper named Bella.

Bella is a serving robot that is making itself at home as a part of the wait staff at Midtown Tavern in Moorhead.

Brenco Cleaning Equipment & Janitorial Services is the company that brought the robots to the area.

"The biggest complaint we are getting is staff shortages, so we were approached by one of our manufacturers for cleaning robots. We liked the idea and the service robots as well and it's taken off for us," said Josh Green, president of Brenco.

Equipped with four trays, turn signals, and a happy cat smile, Bella has the ability to navigate through traffic using a programmed map of the restaurant to bring out food and drinks to customers.


"It goes back to the efficiency part. We're not looking to replace any staff," said Brenco sales manager Randy Schmitz. "The biggest thing is just helping Laurie's staff be happier, saving them steps in un-useful time and making them more efficient."

With the ability to be fully customized, Bella can roam the restaurant and hand out free popcorn or assist the wait staff by carrying food out to tables using sensors and cameras to weave through tables and chairs; all while projecting a positive attitude. On just her second day of work at Midtown Tavern, Bella has already made friends with the staff.

"They (wait staff) are excited. We even have pizza cooks coming out of the kitchen yesterday and they want to use it. Instead of bringing it all the way through the grill kitchen, they are just coming right outside their door, putting it on, so it gets to the customer quicker," said Laurie Kuehl, co-owner of the Midtown Tavern.

Bella is the first of its kind in the metro, but these automated servers are becoming more popular across the world, even with a similar robot helping out at a restaurant in Alexandria. You can expect to see more of these coming to an eatery near you.

"You gotta look at it as a tool like everything else. As we move forward in society, we have self checkout and all that kind of stuff, it's just another tool assist in our daily lives, that's all it is," said Green.

Midtown Tavern stressed that Bella will not eliminate any staff and will just lend a helping hand when needed. If a customer does not want Bella's services, the staff will make sure the robotic server does not come to their table. Brenco also offers a one-week trial to business interested in getting some robotic help.

What To Read Next
Get Local