Automat Kitchen int 1GTL Construction

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It looks futuristic – but it’s actually based on a restaurant phenomenon that boomed during the 1950s before dying out in the US.

New Jersey restaurant Automat Kitchen is trying to revive the automat with modern technology and high-quality food. And in the midst of a pandemic, when diners are urged to avoid unnecessary contact, the timing could hardly be better.

Automats are like self-service vending machines where customers insert coins or use their card to buy hot food. They have a notable presence in countries including Spain, the Netherlands, and Japan, but Horn and Hardart, which dominated the US automat industry, closed the doors of its last New York City site in 1991.

The pandemic may give the machines another lease of life.

Automat Kitchen adds a modern twist

While automats typically sell pre-made food, Automat Kitchen, which opened in Jersey City earlier this year, makes all its food to order. Chefs in the kitchen then place the meals in one of the restaurant’s 20 lockers by opening them from the back.

Customers can order in advance via Automat Kitchen’s website or on its app. They can also order on-site by scanning a QR code.

They are then texted a code when their order is ready, which they enter into the locker to open it. Alternatively, customers can also reply to the text message with the word “open” to open the locker – making it an entirely touch-free experience.

Screens above the lockers show the order status, and when it’s ready the locker lights up.

Customers get their receipt automatically emailed to them after the transaction. Customers can also choose to pay by cash, but most use their phones to get the full experience.

Automat Kitchen has patents that cover any computer-controlled, food locker technology, which permits a customer to open a food locker by using a device such as a cell phone to retrieve their food, without ever needing to touch the “locker.” Those patents cover the technology that is being adopted by several food-delivery system manufacturers, it told Insider.

The restaurant also offers delivery via DoorDash. Though delivery drivers do not currently collect the orders from lockers, the restaurants’ owners say they’re working with DoorDash to integrate orders into the locker system.

Automat Kitchen’s principal owner, Joe Scutellaro, has been working on the restaurant for over a decade, well before the pandemic revived momentum for contactless collection.

Scutellaro said he has fond memories of visiting the …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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Take a look inside Automat Kitchen, a New Jersey restaurant that only serves food using lockers

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