Robot cat waiter serves food at IKKO in Hattiesburg

IKKOa new Japanese fusion restaurant in Hattiesburg, has a unique staff member – a robot with a digital cat face that delivers food to tables.

“(Customers) find it so fascinating,” manager Mandi Li said. “They love it, especially when the robot talks… and sings the birthday songs. It’s like a human. Kids love it. … It was amazing for me too when I first discovered the robot.”

The robot delivers appetizers and sushi rolls to customers while talking and singing, and it knows which table to deliver the food to every time. The idea came from similar restaurants in Japan with robot servers.

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“I loved it. It was so cute,” customer Patara Martin said. “I think I would just come for the robot actually, but everything I’ve had so far has been good.”

The Hattiesburg restaurant, which opened a few days after Valentine’s Day, is IKKO’s second restaurant. the original is in Birmingham, Alabama.

Li said she had family in Hattiesburg, and they suggested the town needed a little something different. And the new Hattiesburg restaurant, located at 6133 US 98, is a hit in its first week.

“They always told us Hattiesburg would be a good place because people here like good food,” Li said.

The restaurant employs five people, but is looking to double its workforce. Li said they were still working on the issues.

IKKO offers ramen, teppanyaki or hibachi, fried rice, rice bowls, sushi, desserts and fruit and milk teas. The restaurant makes its own “Yum Yum sauce” from scratch and makes its own tea.

Li recommends the ramen dishes, and her favorite sushi rolls are the Volcano roll and the UAB roll, which honors the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Friday to Saturday. For more information, call 601-296-6868.

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Contact reporter Laurel Thrailkill at [email protected] Or on Twitter.

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