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A ‘Techno-Resto’ Complete With Robot Bartender Has Opened Downtown

The owner crafted the robot himself

R1-B1, the bartending robot
Le XVI XVI/supplied

A newly-opened restaurant in downtown Montreal is hoping to bring a whole bunch of technology into the drinking and dining world, with a robot bartender, an at-your-table service system and more.

Le XVI XVI opens Friday (September 14) at Sherbrooke and Guy, and is the product of Cédric Moindrot, an entrepreneur from France and a relative newcomer to Montreal — he previously ran catering service Le Trateur du Marais in Paris, which counted Cirque du Soleil among its clients.

The big attraction here is the novelty of a humanoid bartending robot, named R1-B1 — with the space split into an upper-level restaurant and lower-level lounge, the robot will be the centrepiece of the lounge. It will mix drinks, but also engage with customers in both French and English. The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein already paid it a visit, finding that it’s quite a chatty computer, engaging with customers more than just taking an order and making it. Moindrot tells Eater it’s also capable of dishing out compliments, and perhaps even getting a little flirty.

The system isn’t totally automated — the robot does have minders on hand to in case any problems arise, and a human bartender will also work the bar (although it seems the robot can prepare full drinks from start to finish — it just won’t fill all orders).

While some are describing as the world’s first robot bartender, that’s not quite the case — although it may be the first to more substantially interact with customers. Others, such as one in Las Vegas can also prepare drinks, although that one is more just a robotic arm, without the same computerized friendliness. Yet with Moindrot having crafted and programmed the restaurant himself, and not working with any large-scale firm, it’s still impressive. The cocktails it will make were devised by Le 4e Mur bartender Alexis Taoufiq.

Elsewhere, the restaurant is focused on classic French fare — the kitchen is headed up by ex Manoir Hovey chef Joris Larigaldie. No robot chefs here, although Larigaldie is getting playful with technique — for example, using a capsule coffee machine with savoury cups to infuse broths.

The bar
Le XVI XVI/Supplied

The tech theme extends to the restaurant tables — a system named “Pop” is in place where diners can summon servers and request that valet cars be retrieved, amongst other functions. It’s a novelty, but perhaps a bit of a gimmick for a fancier restaurant. It’s all accompanied by a space-agey looking bar design, and a more clean white approach in the restaurants, all from Montreal designer Charles Parnaso.

Le XVI XVI/Supplied

STATUS — Le XVI XVI is open at 1616 Sherbrooke West — the restaurant section does lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, dinner Thursday to Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and brunch Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The lounge (with bartending robot) opens Monday to Wednesday from 5 to 11 p.m. and by reservation only Thursday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.

Le XVI XVI (Le 1616)

1616 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montreal, QC H3H 1E1