What Are Automats? They May Be The Next Big Thing In The Restaurant World

What Are Automats? They May Be The Next Big Thing In The Restaurant World

Bustle |
Claire Warner |
Nov 17, 2017
Original Article: "What Are Automats? They May Be The Next Big Thing In The Restaurant World"

For introverts since the dawn of time, eating out has presented a set of problems — mainly, having to interact with other humans in order to get your hands on a simple turkey sandwich. For a brief time in the early 20th century, the invention of the automat took care of that with its waiter-free format. Fork over a nickel, turn a knob, pick up the food that magically appeared in the tiny compartment next to the slot, and voila! You just acquired lunch sans awkward eye contact and half-mumbled small talk. What more could a diner want?

If you find the prospect appealing, you’re in luck. Decades after the rise of fast food put them out of business, automat-style restaurants may be poised for a comeback. Eatsa, a fully automated, San Francisco-based restaurant chain, announced this fall that it will scale back its physical retail locations to focus on “enabling other restaurants to use the eatsa [sic] platform.” In other words, the chain is bringing its system to other established brands. According to the Chicago Tribune, the first to adopt the new format is Wow Bao, a fast casual Asian eatery based in Chicago.

For those who don’t keep up with the restaurant industry, Eatsa first opened its doors in San Francisco in 2015. For being so high-tech, the concept is simple: Diners place an order on an iPad or the mobile app, and a team of back-of-house (and out of sight) kitchen staff prepares the food in the back. When it’s ready, which should be within a few minutes, the meal appears in a glass cubby — much like the automats that were so popular in northeastern cities nearly a century ago. But in case you need a reminder that we live in 2017, Eatsa’s cubbies are emblazoned with diners’ individual names until the order is picked up.

Although it was hailed as a revolutionary concept at the time, Eatsa hearkens back to the days of the automat, where customers retrieved food from what were essentially giant vending machines. Like Eatsa, dishes were prepared by workers hidden from view; diners put their own meals together by purchasing individual items, from salads to coffee cake. Originally a European concept, the first automat in the United States opened its doors in Philadelphia in 1902. Ten years later, the idea had proven popular enough that the company, Horn & Hardart, was able to open a location in Times Square. Given the fast-paced lifestyle New York is known for, it’s no wonder the automat quickly caught on.

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-878-7340

You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
Rise & Shine: The Best Way to Breakfast During the Week
May 13, 2018

Early risers rejoice! We've rounded up all of our weekday breakfast specialties that will keep you…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Guide to the 26 Best Burgers to Try During National Burger Month
Apr 30, 2018

Burgers deserve a full month of celebrations which is why May has been declared National Burger…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Best Time of the Year: Patio Season
Apr 20, 2018

Warm weather is here, which means al fresco dining is too! We've rounded up the best patios at…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Eat Lunch
Apr 11, 2018

For that one hour escape from your office, you want to make sure to make most of your lunch hour.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Trending Now: Matcha
Apr 10, 2018

For all those who are matcha obsessed our chefs and mixologists have incorporated this…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Luck of the Irish: St. Patrick’s Day Treats
Mar 14, 2018

St. Patrick's Day is Saturday, March 17 and our restaurants are striking gold with special…

read more >
How To
Already Fell Off the Healthy New Year’s Resolution Wagon? Let’s Eat.
Jan 12, 2018

"New Year, Same Me" more your speed? Well, we're right there with you. Celebrate one of our favorite…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Welcome Our 2017 Newcomers
Dec 5, 2017

2017 is coming to a close, but we opened lots of new doors this year! Lettuce has welcomed newcomers…

read more >
Openings
The First Fully Automated Wow Bao is Now Open
Dec 1, 2017

On December 1, Wow Bao opened Chicago’s first and only fully automated dining experience.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Fall Harvest’s Best Dishes
Oct 30, 2017

The bounty of fall harvest comes at a time in the year when we are craving the comfort of cool…

read more >
In The Restaurants
In Bloom: Strawberries
May 21, 2017

Summer is on the horizon, which means strawberries season is back to brighten our palates! From…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Sandwiches – They’re What’s For Breakfast
Aug 15, 2016

What has a runny egg, meat (sometimes veggies) and cheese sandwiched between two buttery biscuits…

read more >

Recent Posts

In The Restaurants
Tallboy Taco’s Boozy Rainbow Paleta Benefits the Center on Halsted
Jun 18, 2018

To celebrate Chicago Pride, Tallboy Taco is serving a limited-edition Rainbow Paleta available June…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Oh Marie, Take Us To Summer
Jun 14, 2018

Summer is in full swing and there's a newfound spring in Marie's step with il Porcellino's warm…

read more >
In The Restaurants
After 20 Years, Here’s 20 Things to Know About Mon Ami Gabi
Jun 14, 2018

Since 1998, Mon Ami Gabi has been serving up French classics like our signature Onion Soup Au…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Rich Says You’ve Gotta Try: Stella Barra Pizzeria
Jun 13, 2018

Summer time is typically synonymous with (trying to) eat lighter but what if we told you that what…

read more >
How To
Here’s How Bub City Celebrates the Best of American BBQ
Jun 11, 2018

Let’s stop for a moment and really think about… BBQ. Burning embers, fragrant smoke, saucey…

read more >
In The Restaurants
What’s New at Booth One: Breakfast, Brunch and a Bar Menu
Jun 7, 2018

We've got three things to add to your summer to do list! Booth One has rolled out a new weekday…

read more >
Openings
Now Open: Aba Brings Mediterranean Summer Vibes to Chicago
Jun 6, 2018

Aba is now open for dinner and with summer in Chicago almost here, we’ve got our eyes set on…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Perfect Date Night Dishes from Tokio Pub
Jun 5, 2018

Hey everyone! Kailley of Kailley Lindman Photography here! I'm a food writer-turned-photographer,…

read more >
Openings
Ramen-san Sends Noods to Fulton Market
Jun 4, 2018

The second edition of Ramen-san (@ramensanchi) is now open, bringing the "San" vibe of broth, beer…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Negroni Week: Drink Up For Charity
Jun 2, 2018

Drink a Negroni and benefit a local charity? We're in. June 4-10 marks Negroni Week 2018, a…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Gift Guide
Jun 1, 2018

Whether a birthday, graduation or any other of the countless holidays, we're here to make selecting…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Man Behind the Windy City Smokeout Music Lineup: Ed Warm
May 31, 2018

Entering its sixth year, Windy City Smokeout (July 13-15) has become synonymous with burgeoning…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!