Automats are making a comeback

touchless purchasing
Photo: Westend61 (Getty Images)

Automats, the old-fashioned wave of the future that never quite became the actual future, may again, be the future.

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For whatever reason, I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of automats: those rooms with giant vending machines that are secretly stocked by actual people moving around in back. There are lots of choices, you can window shop for your food, pretend you’re in The Jetsons, and reach into your very own little cubby. These are all very interesting things that I would like to do at a restaurant.

According to The Wall Street Journal, two automats will be opening up, one in New York City, and one in Jersey City. The concept is uniquely positioned for a pandemic, if you think about it. You poke around, look for something you want to eat, pay up, and get out, no human interaction necessary. Extra bonus if the carryout food is good.

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The automat in Jersey City will be called Automat Kitchen (opening in December), and will be an updated version to reflect changes in technology. In this case, customers will be able to order via smartphone or the restaurant’s website, and they’ll receive a special code to unlock their own cubby when they arrive at the restaurant.

The automat in New York will be called Brooklyn Dumpling Shop (opening in November), and it’ll be operated by robots (!!!) supervised by one or two meat-based human beings. The robots consist of mechanical arms connected to the ceiling that will hold deep fryers, flip dumplings, and maintain the kitchen. They will be powered by artificial intelligence.

Customers will also be able to order through their phones, or they can use touchless kiosks that detect hovering fingers. Cubbies will be opened by scanning custom barcodes. Man, this sounds like so much fun, and here I am stuck like a chump in Chicago. Automat operators, hear my cry and come to Chicago!

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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DISCUSSION

manicotti
Manic Otti

Most likely, this will be the future.