With businesses opening back up and implementing clever new safety measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, it’s worth asking: Have restaurateurs always been society’s secret geniuses, just waiting for their moment to showcase every bit of their creativity both on and off our plates? Now that we know a butcher in Rochester, New York has installed a meat vending machine at the front of his shop, we’re more and more convinced that the theory holds true.
USA Today reports that Kevin McCann, owner of McCann’s Local Meats, made the call in March to shutter his shop during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the past couple months, he’s had time to step back and make decisions about how to reconfigure his business for the new normal, rather than trying to make smaller changes each day amid the rush of typical business operations. His conclusion: Different customers will desire different levels of contactless pickup, and you can keep interactions to a minimum with a refrigerated vending machine right in the vestibule of the shop. Or, if you like, a “24/7 meat machine.”
USA Today has the details: “Its nine levels of revolving shelves will be stocked with things like freshly cut uncooked steaks, burgers, sausages, pork chops, chicken and bacon. There might also be some of the shop’s prepared foods, such as mac salad, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and soup. The machine will accept credit cards and Apple Pay, but no cash.” (Customers who come in to use the vending machine must still wear face coverings.)
The best part of this vending machine is perhaps the fact that it isn’t even McCann’s original idea—he got his inspiration from Applestone Meat Co., which according to its website is currently running a vending-machine-only business to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Could these 24/7 meat machines become a staple of American life long after the threat of COVID-19 has subsided? Will we soon bang on the glass to free a stuck rack of ribs, just like a snagged fun-size bag of Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn? Time will tell.