clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This New Robot-Powered Korean BBQ Restaurant Might Mean LA Is Doomed

Gen Korean BBQ House looks towards an uncertain future

The future of Korean BBQ is robots?
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

In the coming robot apocalypse, it will be restaurants like the new highly-automated Gen Korean BBQ House that rise up to destroy humanity. The local chain means well, but their new Montclair outlet must have sinister plans on the horizon after unveiling a gleaming robot food delivery system that actually drops plates off right at every individual table.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin caught a glimpse of the robot Korean barbecue operation in action before the official opening, from the large kitchen stocked with iPads for monitoring the orders to the conveyor belts and beep-booping little carts that deliver meats and banchan tableside. The only thing left is for customers to pull off the plates from the large (and ominously glowing) tray, then press a button to send the slider back into the darkness. Check out the operation in action below.

Gen says the system is not only fun and innovative, but it’s meant to be a way to curb human mistakes in the restaurant — though servers will still come by to take the initial orders and refill drinks and the like. Others are skeptical that the automation is really just another way to cut down on labor, especially for a growing chain with 12 outlets to care for.

Robotic delivery systems are certainly one way to expand on razor-thin margins in the restaurant industry and beyond. Other Los Angeles eateries have long been turning to new mixed-service models where sous chefs run plates, or with service charges built into the meal. Of course some level of automation is nothing new; Tablet ordering has similarly been around for a while (and is growing as a market overall), while conveyor belt sushi is rather common in larger cities — and none of those restaurants have risen up and killed anyone (yet).