As worker shortages are felt across the hospitality sector, the owners of the Bella Italia chain are turning to robots to provide table service to customers.

Big Table Group, which also owns Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, is testing out the robot at its Bella Italia restaurant in Center Parcs Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, in the first such trial by a big restaurant chain.

The BellaBot, made by Chinese company Pudu, can carry up to 40kg on four trays and deliver and retrieve plates from tables with help from humans who load and unload its “body”.

Eric Guo, the chief executive of Spark which distributes Pudu robots in the UK, said there were 60 working across 20 British businesses and he expected more orders in the year ahead. Most are operating in restaurants, but hotels, supermarkets, care homes, snooker clubs and bowling alleys are also experimenting with the technology.

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