Today's robot waiters aren't any less gimmicky, but it's hard not to feel like they've lost some flair. In 1980, a pair of R2-D2 look-a-likes in a Californian restaurant were greeting customers, wheeling orders to tables and busting a move to disco music when things didn't go their way. Yeah, your read all that right.
The two droids you're looking for are Tanbo R-1 and Tanbo R-2, ordered by Shayne Hayashi to staff his Pasadena fast food Chinese joint, the Two Panda Deli. Each "bubblehead" stood 4.5 feet tall, weighed in at 180 pounds and cost Hayashi $20,000 (in 1980s dollars) to order from Japan.
Apparently, they weren't the best wait staff one could hope for. Paleofuture's Matt Novak dug up this clip from a 1983 article published by Miami News:
The pair at the Two Panda Deli, a fast-food Chinese eatery in Pasadena, tend to blur their words drunkenly when their 12-volt power cells run down, and they've been known to drop food and spin in circles when police radios operate nearby. They're programmed to be nice to customers — "Will there be anything else?" and "See you tomorrow" — in Japanese, English and Spanish. Patrons whose commands confuse the pair get the response: "That's not my problem," accompanied by a short blast of disco music to which the bubbleheads dance back and forth.
Someone needs to start programming the sass back into 'bots.