DeKALB – At Fushi Yami, patrons may come for the hibachi and sushi but they stay to be served by Mushroom.
Mushroom is a serving robot that was introduced to the restaurant’s staff as a new employee last year.
Fushi Yami manager Brian Chen said his staff has noticed that people are starting to dine in more as opposed to choosing take-out. He said he believes it’s because of their latest tech upgrade.
“Some people come here because of this,” Chen said. “They want to see it. … People like it so much.”
Employees banded together and came up with the idea to name the robot Mushroom.
A sign inside the restaurant boasts that Mushroom is “friendly, reliable, and always ready to serve you.”
The robot has a screen that deploys friendly emojis to greet patrons. It has three trays enabling it to serve three tables at a given time. The robot uses GPS, cameras and sensors to navigate the space and even can keep food warm.
Chen said Mushroom has been a welcome addition to the team at Fushi Yami.
“It’s helped us, too, because sometimes we’re tired and he’ll do it,” Chen said. “That’s a big help.”
Rochelle resident Rachael Iturbide was enjoying sushi and egg rolls recently at the restaurant with David Salgado from Chicago.
Iturbide said she almost couldn’t believe it when her food was served by a robot.
“It is definitely something new,” Iturbide said. “I thought it was pretty cool. We weren’t really expecting it. We just ordered … and it showed up.”
Chen said it’s clear that business has been faring well at Fushi Yami with the addition of Mushroom to the team.
“We’re attracting so many new customers, especially little kids,” Chen said. “We still keep the college students here.”
The Japanese restaurant has taken its robot craze online. Mushroom even got in on some holiday cheer in December, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page, which posted a picture of the robot decked out in festive attire.
Chen, who’s worked at Fushi Yami for about 10 years, said the robot helped generate about 15% in new revenue from patrons frequenting the restaurant last year.
“That’s good for the owner and good for the restaurant,” he said.
Iturbide said she was pleased with the experience she had at Fushi Yami.
“I thought the service was a little bit faster with the robot,” Iturbide said.
Salgado said he would definitely make a return trip to the eatery because of Mushroom.
“[I’ve] not been here before,” Salgado said. “[This is my] first time, and I would come here.”
Mushroom is available during normal business hours at Fushi Yami, 822 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For information, visit fushiyami.com.