Downtown's A Narrow Escape owners Shane Light and Kirsten Kendall* have expanded their quirky operation with the addition of Robo World: A coffee and treat shop run by a troupe of robots trying to take over the world.
Guests will have an opportunity to interact with the robots that have their own personalities, and listen in on their ongoing conversations among one another about their plans to dominate humanity. The shop is located at 810 Central Ave.
"The goalpost is the weirdest coffee shop in the country," Light said.
"My goal is to have an experience where everyone can get something," Kendall said. "If you want to look around for free, you can do that. If you want a coffee, that's there. If you want to play a game or buy a gift, we have that too. There's something for everyone."
The story goes, the robots are trying to save up enough money to take over the world, and they thought that opening a coffee shop would be the best thing that they could do.
Suspended from the shop's ceiling is a "death ray" being worked on by a robot named Keith. This is intended to be a tool to assist in taking over the world.
"The real plan is we're going to get them addicted to caffeine and then we're going to take it away, and while they're powerless we'll dominate them with the death ray," Light said, laughing. "It's like a multi-step thing. But they also don't have any money right now to finish anything, so they're trying to make money."
Another tool used in the robot's mission is the menu full of items like locally roasted coffee, buttermilk waffle sticks and candy-infused soft served ice cream.
"The robots are trying to cater to human needs, and their research shows humans need caffeine and sugar," Kendall said.
On a more serious note, Kendall said the shop prides itself in the quality of its products.
“I think a big thing is we make the buttermilk waffle sticks from scratch, and we’re really focused on quality with everything — food and games,” she said. “And we hope to support Arkansas brands as much as possible.”
And just to put readers’ minds at ease, Light — the robots’ creator — said while these robots may have a plan, as clueless rejects they have no real chance to dominate the world.
Meet the Robots
First, there's the Don — an Italian mob boss robot lightly based off The Godfather that oversees the operation.
"He's ... the boss," Light said. "He's very oriented on making money. In fact, his special emote is (dollar signs for) his eyes. So he's very focused on making enough money to finish the death ray. I would say, to summarize, he's an Italian mob boss. He ... seems like a good business man, but he's kind of shady on the side."
And then there's Rob — the delivery bot that will deliver your food order.
"He's kind of based off Bob in Bob's Burgers," Light said. "He's just a middle-aged slightly depressed man who doesn't know what he did wrong to end up in this bot. So he doesn't really believe in the cause that the Don believes in, he's just kind of there. He's just trying to get by and wants people to leave him alone. He doesn't really care about dominating humanity."
Next up we have Keith and Trish — two bots that want to dominate humanity, but unintentionally cause numerous setbacks in the mission.
"So Keith is dumb — he's dumb as a box of rocks, and he's the one welding the death ray, and he has no idea what he's doing," Light said. "If you listen, there's multiple times where he's like, 'Alright Don, it's done.'
'Oh, it can belt through four inches of steel?' (Don asks.)
And (Keith's) like, "Well, four inches of butter.'
"Trish is in love with Keith and she's totally for world domination and she's impatient and she's just like the typical annoyed teenager. She's always pissed off. She's pretty feisty and she has no patience for humans, she's over it. She's everyone's favorite robot."
Then there's Greg — the “sweet old man” bot who greets you at the door.
"He likes humans, actually, but he's trying to keep it a secret that he really likes humans," Light said. "So he's always trying to like — he'll accidentally say, 'Man these humans are really (great) — I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I (mean I) hate these humans."
And finally, there's Ben — the 9-foot-tall robot there for your entertainment. Insert a $5 bill in him and you can play a friendly game of shooting him with laser guns.
Robo World had its soft opening Friday, May 13 (robots aren't superstitious.)
Light said they hope to be fully open, stocked with retail items, by June.
After June, they plan to develop more entertainment throughout the summer.
Currently, Robo World is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Hours will expand starting in June.
*There is a familial relation between the writer and subject.