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Chinese Restaurant Replaces Servers and Cashiers... with Your Phone?

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Part of the charm of dim sum comes from the ladies with carts screaming things like, "YELLOW!" at you, only for you to realized you've just ordered a basket of taro. And you don't even know what that is.

But one restaurant in China is looking to do away with those fun, if not awkward interactions, by eliminating servers, cashiers, and human interaction altogether and replacing them with your phone.

CNN reports the Beijing restaurant, Renrenxiang, has developed a system that uses the country's most popular messaging app, WeChat, to order and pay for your meal, right from your phone. Diners pull up the restaurant's menu -- not an innovation in itself -- but then are given a number, like at a deli counter, once they've placed their order. No cash exchanges hands, and the digital order goes straight to the cooks. A speaker system announces when your meal is ready.

“There will be four ‘no’s’ in the restaurant - that is, no waitress, no cashier, no merchandiser and no chef,” Renrenxiang Restaurant founder Liu Zheng told CNN. “I did this because I’m following the technology development trend in China.”

Is this the end of tipping? Probably not. But Renrenxiang's idea falls in line with the shift to automating as many jobs as possible. And already, nary a meal goes by without someone snapping a photo on a phone, or responding to text and emails from the dinner table. The technology is there, so it's only a matter of time.

Now, if they could only find a way to make the phone use the chopsticks for us...


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Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Senior News Editor. He quite enjoys ordering mystery items at Chinese restaurants. His stomach doesn't always agree, however. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.