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The Washington Post has a story about how the iconic Horn & Hardart Automat - which started in New York City in the early 20th century - is finding new life in a format called Eatsa, which now has outlets in Washington, DC, and New York City.

Automats, for those of you too young to remember (and that would be most of you), were a highly popular format that used vending machines to deliver simple foods and drinks. They actually started in Germany, and were popularized in the USA by Horn & Hardart; the last one closed in New York in 1991 (which was a lot later than I would've guessed).

According to the Post, Eatsa is a tech-driven take on the old concept:

"Eatsa strives for self-service. You begin the interaction by swiping your credit card on a touch screen kiosk. You then choose from a variety of (vegetarian) bowls and then build to your own liking by selecting extra ingredients like pinto beans or grilled corn. Of course there’s lots of nutritional information, like calories and carbohydrate levels, provided with each selection because this is 2016 and we need to know this stuff.

"After completing your order, you check the big board to find out your assigned window.  Then you go get your food from a Horn & Hardart’s-like window compartment, except today it’s got a flashy video screen that entertains you with cool animation and fun colors before – presto! – your food magically appears behind it. A quick double-tap raises the door so you can get your grub."
KC's View:
I have fond memories of going to the Automat. I can remember as a little kid being taken to the Automat on the southeast corner of Third Avenue and 42nd Street by aunts and uncles who thought it was the coolest thing ever; it inevitably would be followed by a walk or cab ride over the Radio City Music Hall where we'd see a movie and Rockettes stage show. Good times.

But I'm not sure that the technology/automat combination will be enough to make this a success. It'll be a curiosity, but it'll only be a success if the food is good.