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HOST WITH THE MOST: Tyler's Jalapeño Tree adds robot to staff

"Pepper" the robot went viral on social media. Some people like the new host, but others see it as an impersonal experience.

TYLER, Texas — You’ve may have seen a robot host going viral on Facebook. 

Deemed "Pepper the Robot by the staff, the newest addition to Tyler's Jalapeño Tree greets guest with, "Hola, welcome to the Jalapeño Tree."

"We actually just heard about it as we walked in," said Kyle Thompson, a Tyler resident. "So she was sitting there, I guess, is it a she? I don't know. 'Pepper' was sitting there when we walked in so we just started asking questions about it."

The new hostess surprised every guest that walked in.

"It was really cool," said Anthony Rubio, a visitor from Louisiana. "That's the first time I've ever seen anything like that."

Some people have expressed concerns about robots taking people’s jobs and feel like "Pepper" was too impersonal. 

"She is not here to replace anybody by any means," said Dave Deffenbaugh, the regional manager. "We're in the service industry and human services is what made us famous, and we're going to continue to do that."

You could even say "Pepper" is also a visitor because she’s only in the trial phase. Once that phase is over, Jalapeño Tree will determine whether or not pepper is going to be making a permanent stay.

"It could be a good thing with being short staffed, but also a bad thing. because what if it like messes up or something?," Rubio said. 

"Pepper" is still working out some kinks, like when people walk in front of her she'll completely stop. But, in the end you’ll be able to catch her helping the staff seat customers.

Deffenbaugh also mentioned that if Jalapeño Tree gets back to full staff and decide to keep "Pepper," that they will probably use her to collect dirty dishes and take them to the back for cleaning. 

The restaurant wants guests to know that she’s here to help share the workload rather than take anyone’s job.

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