Vintage New York: Automats

by - April 20, 2016

Automats

What is a Automat? An Automat is like a combination of a fast food cafeteria and a vending machine all in one. Unfortunately, the last one that existed in New York City closed in April 1991. Can you just imagine taking your lunch break from a busy day at the office and walking to your local Automat and putting in some coins to get your fresh, warm meal all ready for you to eat? I think this system sounds so nifty.

At the beginning Automats only accepted nickels, so you could purchase a hamburger for a nickel or bacon and eggs for two nickels. Not only were they affordable meals but the perk for customers was that they were able to see what they were going to buy. All you had to do was drop your nickel in the slot, turn the knob, lift the hinged window and there was your meal.

To me, the Automat was like a grown ups cafeteria. Proper ceramic plates, cutlery that isn't plastic, and the feel that you are eating in a nice restaurant yet you were not breaking the bank. Fast and affordable. What is not to like?

Automats
Automats
Automats
Automats
Automats

Pouring your own freshly brewed coffee into a nice ceramic mug is a rarity in our Starbucks world. The Automats were indeed something special. Now if only I could go back in time and tell my 15 year old self to get on the train and head to the Automat before it gets shut down. Darnit!

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4 comments

  1. Interesting post, it's too bad we don't see such unique places like this anymore. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Automats are so fabulously cool! I've always hankered for one as well. It would be so cool if someone brought the concept back, even if they came at it from a kitschy retro angle (in fact, that might make it even better! :)). There are plenty of "1950s style" diners around, so you just never know, it could happen (fingers crossed).

    ♥ Jessica

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  3. My dad told me how automate where neat but the food was gross

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