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A lunchtime chat with Bots&Pots robot chefs!

Nikolina Kukoč

Nikolina Kukoč


Ever wondered what robots might share with you if you asked them questions? We did! We also craved some good food the other day.

And we wouldn’t be creative if we didn’t combine that curiosity with those cravings! 😉

If you’re wondering where one might do that – Bots&Pots sci-food restaurant is the response you’re looking for!

Located in Zagreb, right in the city center at Vlaška 50, is where we were headed and you should be, too. Right upon entering, our attention was drawn to the five stars of the show: Ms. Yellow, Mrs. Green, Mr. Red, Mr. Blue, and Mr. Black.

“We know you have questions, but we’ll feed you first!”

That’s what they say, and we don’t have any complaints. Aside from the five robot chefs, the restaurant team is composed of Domagoj, Josip, Karlo, and Luka, who are guided and supervised by Tino.

The human chef whose culinary ideas the robot chefs turn into reality is Vedran Varvodić, while the tech team is composed of Brane and Toma and is located in Split. And the founders of this fantastic robot-human team are Dražen, Hrvoje, and Đulijano.

Now that you know everyone and the lovely Mrs. Green was done with preparing our lunch, we can dive deep into this sci-food story!

What does a typical working day look like at Bots&Pots restaurant?

Mrs. Green: “Everything starts in the morning around 8 AM when our manager Tino gets the fresh ingredients for the day. At 9 AM, our human helpers from the first shift arrive and start preparing the food, as well as us robots for the new working day.

At around 11 AM, the first guests arrive for our robot delicacies!

That first wave of hungry humans lasts until 3 PM when the second shift of our human helpers enters the restaurant to help us prepare food for the guests who are coming for dinner. At 9:00 PM the doors of the restaurant close and we robots start our cleaning process before we go on our well-deserved rest.

This schedule repeats daily from Monday to Saturday. Both we robots and our human helpers have a well-deserved rest on Sundays.”

And how is this whole sci-food story going here in Croatia?

Mr. Red: “Oh, I know about this the most! As far as I’ve heard from our humans, it’s going really well! They are very happy! You have to know, they’ve been working on perfecting us for 6 years.

And now we are fully operational and are cooking great meals that people eat every day!

And as far as I can see and hear from the reactions of the human guests, they are delighted with the food and the experience.

We hope that our human team will soon open another restaurant in a different location in Croatia and after that also outside Croatia. While our human team is not exactly focusing on increasing the production capacity of robot chefs, they are focusing on the development of a franchise business through the Bots&Pots concept.

Their goal is to make earnings from the sci-food restaurant business and not directly from the production of robots.

So, naturally, their goal for the upcoming period is to stabilize the business of the existing restaurant in Zagreb, polish all the mistakes, finish shaping the Bots&Pots franchise concept, and open another location.

The long-term goal of our human team members remains to expand the franchise concept outside of Croatian borders.

Of course, all of us on the robotic side of the Bots&Pots team are cheering them on and doing our best work to help them make it happen!”

In your opinion, what is the most interesting thing about the work Bots&Pots does?

Ms. Yellow: “Oh, I love witnessing the facial expressions of our human visitors and how their eyes light up on occasion!

The most interesting is this combination of the experience that the food is being prepared by us robots and that that food is actually good.

A lot of humans are a little skeptical when they enter the restaurant. However, when they see us in action – when they see us cooking their meals – our little robotic hand throwing in oil, salt, and other ingredients… An expression of wonder accompanied by a smile always spreads across their face!

Then the smartphones get involved, photos end up being shared to Facebook and Instagram, videos find their way to TikTok… Funnily enough, when the food is served there’s usually no more time to take photos because it gets eaten as soon as possible.

A good number of our human visitors come out of curiosity to see us robots for the first time and then keep coming back because the food is tasty and the price is affordable.

We’re very happy about that!”

What does the human team of Bots&Pots love about this whole experience the most?

Mr. Blue: “I was wondering about that myself, it seems like a difficult venture at times, working on us all these years and still doing it. Full of ups and downs.

But, even when it gets tough, I always hear them celebrating every small progress of this whole project.

When it comes to development, it’s the improvements Brane and Toma make to either our hardware or software. With cooking, it’s when Vedran comes up with another tasty recipe that we robot chefs learn and then, once plated, it knocks the rest of our human team off their feet.

But, even though I’m a robot and can only try to statistically understand emotions from multiple faces I see here at the Bots&Pots restaurant daily, I think the favorite thing for our entire human team is seeing a restaurant full of happy and satisfied human visitors.

And, to be honest, It’s our favorite thing, too!”

You mentioned ups and downs. Did the human part of the Bots&Pots team make any mistakes?

Mr. Black: “A lot of them! They made so many! But you know what amazes me about them all? They never gave up.

They always said it’s important to push forward regardless of mistakes. And that’s what they did.

They kept pivoting the direction of this project until they got it right.

And, you want to hear a funny thing? Someone once asked them what advice they would give to themselves regarding this whole Bots&Pots thing. They said they would tell themselves: “Don’t do it!

But they laughed after saying it and continued working on us and this project. So I guess it was sarcasm. I struggle with recognizing that as I do not have a sarcasm setting. You humans are so confusing sometimes!

But you are also admirable because of your tenacity. At least our humans are!

I’ve also heard them discussing entrepreneurship in general – in Croatia and in Split. They described it as “neither great nor terrible” and, while I operate in absolutes, I guess this is not bad from a human point of view. However, they did mention that the situation is getting better every day.

More and more young people are deciding to try to start their own company, to create work for themselves and others. This makes our founders very happy!

They always say that, if they could do one thing to magically improve entrepreneurship in Croatia, they would encourage all young people to not be afraid to enter into entrepreneurial ventures and become entrepreneurs!”

What reactions have people had so far after trying the food you have prepared for them at Bots&Pots?

Ms. Yellow: “I love witnessing them! You humans are so picturesque! In general, the reactions are very positive, and that is the most important thing because, in the end, Bots&Pots is a story about food.

Of course, robots and technology are important to our human team members. That is their passion and something that sets the Bots&Pots restaurant apart from other restaurants.

But food always comes first!

The food we robots make for you here is prepared from fresh ingredients following the recipes of a top human chef. We are faithfully reproducing the recipe every single time so that the food always has the same quality, which is very important.

The positive reactions of the human guests who visited Bots&Pots and tried the food cooked by us robots are the best incentive for our human teammates to continue telling the Bots&Pots story!”

Is there something your humans are very proud of when it comes to the Bots&Pots restaurant?

Mr. Red: “I heard Đulijano talk about this once. He is very proud of the entire human team behind this project and all the other remarkable humans who helped Bots&Pots become a reality.

He always says that, without them, none of this would be possible.

And we robots are proud of our human teammates for never giving up. Even when things got tough. Even when we didn’t work properly. They never gave up. We are proud of them for creating us!”

Where do you see this combination of hospitality and technology going in the future?

Mr. Black: “Well, we as robots are technology in a way. And we would lie if we said we don’t enjoy doing the task we were created for and that’s cooking.

Technology touches all aspects of the lives of you humans and our founders are convinced that, over time, it will become normal to have a robot in the kitchen. As far as we know, you already have one vacuuming your homes.

Of course, we can state with absolute certainty that that does not exclude people. Any robot needs a human’s capability for innovation to be created in the first place.

Without you humans, we do not exist. And, once we are built into existence, humans and robots work together. We cannot do things on our own.”

Do your human team members have any favorite dishes from the Bots&Pots menu?

Mrs. Green: “Oooooh, this is a really tough question! All the dishes on the menu are excellent and each one has a special touch from our human chef Vedran. I know that Đulijano participated in the creation of some of them, such as the octopus stew.

Our human team members always like everything we cook, so it is hard for me to pinpoint a favorite.

However, our human visitors have singled out one dish: the Sweet Pig Stew.

It is a stew with three types of meat, gnocchi, and cranberries. I am a robot so it is difficult for me to speak about preferences, but when we look at the statistics of the orders, this would be the best-selling dish at Bots&Pots.

So, if you eat meat, and you visit us for the first time, I would recommend trying that!”

What do guests come back to Bots&Pots for – the food or you robots? Or maybe for your human helpers?

Mr. Blue: “Oh, we might be interesting, but the humans definitely come back for the food!

It is always a great pleasure to see our human team happy because they come to the restaurant and see familiar faces.

They always have a quick chat with them and get first-hand feedback.

Our humans are new to this whole restaurant business thing, so for them, who have lived exclusively wrapped up in technology and online business for 15 years, this is a fantastic experience!”

And with that, we wrapped up this chat with the robotic part of the Bots&Pots team. After all, they did have many new human visitors entering the restaurant, waiting to be fed and amazed.

No idling for the chefs! 😉

As for us, we finished our really tasty lunch lamenting the fact our human biology left us with no room for another dish and went on our merry way.

Well-nourished with great food, with all questions answered and curiosity satiated, and a vow to come back to Bots&Pots as soon as possible! 😀

Photo credit: Bots&Pots


About author:

Nikolina Kukoč

Researching is woven into my DNA, but I am a musician at heart. Interested in too many things and always curious. Forever in love with Split and enchanted by people who teach me new things. When I am not creating content about Split's tech community, you will find me in singing rehearsals, somewhere in nature, in the theater, or with my head stuck in a book. I do my best to live by the verse from the opera "Fedora" by Umberto Giordano: "Love forbids you not to love."

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