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The automat makes a comeback

September 4, 2006

The automat was the first fast food restaurant, before the classic fast food chains emerged. They were popular in the America in the 1930s-1940s. One of the most popular was New York’s Horn and Hardart, who closed their last store in 1988.

The key feature of the automat is the illuminated window box where the food is shown and served from. It’s basically like a giant food vending machine, but for meals. Automats were a source of affordable food for the working class. There was a time when coffee and a pie used to cost just a nickel.

Now the automat has just made a return, with the opening of Bamn. The restaurant is catering to the late night twenty something crowd who are in need of sustenance after a heavy night on the town. Bamn has the perfect mix of greasy food to satisfy the indulgent palate including; grilled cheese sandwiches, pork buns, chicken nuggets, burgers and some strange Spam recipie.

You can read a review and see photos of the food here

Bamn has the right novelty appeal to be a hit. It’s revived an old concept and made it interesting for a new audience by kicking in a load of kitsch appeal. Don’t expect Bamn’s to opening in Main Streets and Malls across the US, this is a very focused play against the urban hipster crowd seeking an alternative to the fast food chain and their local ethnic joint.

It does suggest that some fast food brands should start to use urban centers to experiment with their formula and menu a little bit more. Think of these stores as labs, that look and feel very different to the average store and are used to learn about future concepts, but would also appeal to the urban hipster crowd.

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