The Automat Makes a Return

Automat (Image: ABC News 7 screen grab)

If you remember New York’s Automat chain, you are revealing your age. The last of the Horn & Hardardt vending machine-style restaurants vanished in the 1960s.

I can’t say I recall them firsthand, but I have heard stories from relatives who were around then. How it worked is you would deposit your money in a coin slot, and the window through which the item was visible would open, granting you access. You would then place your dishes on a tray, locate a table, and eat.

But why dwell on memories when you can experience the automat yourself. New York’s ABC News 7 reports:

A blast from the past is making a return in New Jersey.

An automat, which was popular in the 1960s, is now serving up meals in Jersey City. …

The contactless food is made for this time of COVID, but it’s actually been in development for more than 10 years.


If you’re interested in experiencing this bit of nostalgia I suggest you hurry on over to Automat Kitchen, as the New Jersey establishment bills itself, but not because I expect the lines to be forming. Rather, this is not the first attempt that has been made to revive the Automat. An Associated Press article from August 2006 heralded the opening of an automat-style restaurant in the East Village. The restaurant closed three years later.