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Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Credit: WCCO written by Pafoua Yang

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The workforce shortage continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry. The industry is still down nearly 40,000 employees in Minnesota. To address tight staffing issues, Sawatdee Thai Restaurant got creative.

The restaurant, which has five locations including Minneapolis, got a robot named DeeDee assist servers. DeeDee carries food, drinks and dirty dishes between the kitchen and dining tables.

The restaurant said the robot is designed to “automate repetitive manual work which allows the restaurant staff to focus on outstanding customer service.” It is created by a robotics and artificial intelligence company in California.

“It’s been really hard right now to get people at all. In any positions at all my restaurants,” said Harrison.

Harrison explained DeeDee is not meant to replace staff, only to assist them. Servers are still meeting visitors at the tables, they just don’t have to take multiple trips anymore.

While the extra help is coming from a robot, Harrison said it doesn’t take away from the human experience. Instead it does just the opposite.

“We want it to enhance the human interaction. They have more time to spend with you because they’re not back in the ktichen anymore,” said Harrison.

Though Cyndy said DeeDee is Minnesota’s first robot server, Liz Rammer with Hospitality Minnesota said it’s not a new idea.

“Some places are looking at robotics as a potential solution also in the back of the house. Maybe for some repetitive things like chopping and things like that that a robotics can bring to the table,” said Rammer.

Rammer added that to adjust to staffing shortages, many restaurants are limiting hours and days. Even with a helper like DeeDee Cyndy told WCCO it’s still not enough.

“We are hiring at all my locations. Please apply,” said Cyndy.

Sawatdee has a second robot server at its Maple Grove location.

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

This year's Thai New Year is a little different but still has all the great food you love.

From April 12-15, we are giving out Thai Coconut Roll cookies

(representing prosperity through gold bars). You can also order

Kanom Jeen (representing longevity).

Watch this interview with Mill City Times about Thai New Year,

our remodel and our summer plans.

A special thanks to Mill City Times, Brianna Rose and Becky Fillinger.

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Mill City Times - Small Business Spotlight 2021: We're grateful and excited about being featured in the Mill City Times. Read the article here!

Thai New Year 2019 - April 16th and 17th at Sawatdee Minneapolis. We partnered with local non-profit organizations to support hunger relief and Minnesotans struck by cancer. Each night we will be donating 10% of our sales to Second Harvest Heartland and Angel Foundation. Watch us on Kare11

Thai New Year Celebration 2018 - April 17 and 18th - Thai Dancing, a water blessing and a special menu. No cover; great family friendly event. Watch us on Kare11

The Big Game - Join us February 4th, 2018. Thai One on with wing and beer specials. Watch on big screens. At Minneapolis, St Paul and Maple Grove locations.

2017 - Thai New Year Celebration. Watch Supenn and Cyndy on Kare11 4 PM news

October 10-30, 2016 - Sawatdee celebrates Thai OktoberFest featuring our exclusive Sa-Wheat-Dee Thai Beer made by Tin Whiskers. Special menu items, beer flights, free beer and more! AND on October 17th, come to our FREE Tasting and Tour from 5-7 PM at Sawatdee Saint Paul.

August 15, 2016 - Watch the clip featuring Cyndy Harrison and Sawatdee on Kare 11 talking about the Road Construction on Washington Ave

August 1, 2016 - Introducing Sa-Wheat-Dee Thai Beer! Thanks for your help naming our exclusive new beer made by our St. Paul neighbor, Tin Whiskers. Created by infusing Thai chilis, lemongrass and Thai basil into Tin Whiskers well known Wheatstone Bridge, the unique flavors and lingering heat is shockingly good. Our venture was featured in the Pioneer Press in Tin Whiskers new beer needs a name.

June 9, 2016 - Check out the fun Q&A with Supenn Harrion and Nancy Ngo of the Pioneer Press in the article, St. Paul’s first Thai restaurant keeping it spicy after 30 years.

May 12, 2016 - Jason DeRusha's report on Sawatdee and our 30th year in Minneapolis on "DeRusha Eats: Sawatdee"

April 28, 2016 - Dining Out for Life at 4 Sawatdee locations raised over $3,000 for the Aliveness Project plus additional donations our great customers.

April 8, 2016 - Celebrate Thai New Year at Sawatdee featured Cyndy Harrison and Jennifer Reilly talking about the celebration and the special menu.

March 9, 2016 - Sawatdee Saint Paul is now operated by Supenn Harrison and her family, the original owners of the Sawatdee family. Check out the article in the Pioneer Press, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Older News Stories

2015 - Watch Supenn and Cyndy talk about Thai New Year on Kare11. Plus Thai dancing featuring Ying, Pim and Cyndy.

10 DAY POP-UP Around Town Prairie Dogs - Comes To EDEN PRAIRIE Check out the Citypages article and the Kare11 video clips

2013 - Sawatdee celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2013!

Supenn and Cyndy Harrison were on K-TWIN 96.3 FM radio on September 27th for Foodie Friday.

One of favorite Maple Grove musicians, Ray Evangelista, was featured in Citypages. Check out the clip of Ray in the new documentary series, One Men.

Supenn was the guest chef at Mill City Farmers Market on July 20th. Check out the photos.

Book Signing at Byerly's

Supenn signed her book and taught a cooking demonstration at Byerly's of St. Louis Park on Saturday, May 19th at 12 noon. Books are still available in the Gift Shop.

Owner Cyndy Harrison and Chef Sam Simonson taught a cooking demo at the Home and Garden Show on February 29th. Check out photos by liking us on facebook!

Thai New Year Celebration We celebrated Songkran from April 17-19, 2012. Entertainment included Thai dancing, a water blessing, Thai boxing, special menu items and more! - Sawatdee Minneapolis - April 17 & 19, 2012 - Sawatdee of Maple Grove - April 18th, 2012

Thailand Flood Relief Thank you everyone who supported us during our Thailand Flood Relief dining fundraiser. We raised $2,500 for the Thai Red Cross! On November 15th and 16th, 2011, all Sawatdee locations donated 10% of dine-in sales to support flood victims. The floods began in July and have devastated large parts of the central Chao Phraya river basin, killed nearly 400 people and disrupting the lives of more than two million. Learn More

Spicy Pad Thai Challenge II Sawatdee Uptown Express partnered with Old Abbot Productions for the Spicy Pad Thai Challenge on October 29, 2011. Those brave enough to clear their plate became legends even with welled up tears, and those too weak to finish became immortalized on the Wall of Shame. Check out the video of the action!

Sawatdee Thai Restaurant Celebrates Thai New Year 2011 Sawatdee Thai Restaurant invites the public to celebrate Thai New Year at our downtown Minneapolis location at 607 Washington Avenue South onApril 12th and 13th with seating at 6 PM or 8 PM. Our annual celebration with include traditional food, Thai dancing, a water blessing and more. A special dinner menu will also be available. Space is limited, so please make reservations by calling 612-338-6451. Read full story here (PDF)

Sue and Cyndy on WCCO: Cooking Up A Valentine's Meal At Home

Thai it out Love Pad Thai? Thank Supenn. Supenn Harrison, who married a fellow student at the U shortly after she arrived here from her native Thailand, got her start making eggrolls for colleagues at work. Read full story here Downtown Journal

Sawatdee spices things up for the new year | Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN |

Sawatdee is celebrating 30 years of Thai food in the Twin Cities. Sawatdee Owner Supenn Harrison and her daughter Cyndy Harrison stopped by KARE 11 News @ 4 on Tuesday with more on what the restaurant has to offer..

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