And now, something to make tipping in European restaurants even more confusing for Americans: a virtual waiter in Spain.
A restaurant called Funky Pizza in the Mediterranean coastal city of Palafrugell is letting customers use an app for every aspect of their visit except having pizza delivered to their tables, Reuters reports.
Palafrugell is a city of a little more than 20,000 people less than 50 miles from the French border. The surrounding region is especially popular among tourists.
At the restaurant, customers order and pay for food with their Funky apps, Reuters reported. The wire service quoted restaurant owner Carlos Manich as saying: “Through this system, we have tried to keep physical distance with our clients, which is what people are looking for during COVID."
In some locations, restaurants have taken the idea of no-touch service a step further. In Korea, for example, LG Electronics is testing robotic waiters that travel among customers.
The Frankfurt, Germany-based International Federation of Robotics cites the use of autonomous machines in food-related processes like the handling of cheese.
In the Netherlands, the Royal Palace restaurant in Renesse is using red-and-white robots that scoot around the dining room delivering food, the Associated Press reports. The robots, clad in faux aprons, greet customers with "hello and welcome."
A company called Soft Robotics in Bedford, Massachusetts, makes systems that let robots conduct extremely delicate food-handling tasks.
But a robot in a European restaurant? Reuters found mixed reactions in Spain. The wire service quoted one customer as saying, “The application is very user-friendly ... and you can also track your order and see when it is in the kitchen or when it will be arriving." But another said: “I think we lose the feeling with the waiter, for example, when you order you can’t ask about different preferences or quantities."