Daily Bread for 6.2.22: Bring Back the Automat

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see clouds giving way to sun with a high of 73. Sunrise is 5:18 AM and sunset 8:27 PM for 15h 09m 48s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 7.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM, and Whitewater Fire Department, Inc. will hold a business meeting at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1966,  Surveyor 1 lands in Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon, becoming the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on another world.

By Berenice Abbott – Public Domain, Link.

For decades during the last century, Americans in Philadelphia and New York enjoyed meals served in automats, waiterless restaurants that served freshly cooked food. Jane Levere describes the experience in Futuristic ‘automat’ dining thrived a century ago. Can covid revive it?:

At first, Horn & Hardart was known for its coffee. Frank Hardart had discovered the French drip method in New Orleans, and he and Joe Horn served up a brew that made their 15-seater Philadelphia restaurant standing room only at lunchtime.

Then, at the turn of the 20th century, a salesman pitched them on a new European machine, a “waiterless restaurant,” or “automatic,” which served food such as sandwiches, chocolate bars and wine automatically, according to “The Automat: The History, Recipes, and Allure of Horn & Hardart’s Masterpiece,” a 2002 book by historian Lorraine B. Diehl and Marianne Hardart, a great-granddaughter of Frank Hardart. In 1902, Horn and Hardart imported this equipment and launched the first Horn & Hardart Automat, at 818 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia.

Their modified version of the device was “fronted by Carrara [marble] or milk glass on which hung four rectangular glass doors that would be operated by a knob. … All you had to do was make your selection, deposit a nickel, turn the knob, and the door sprang open and your sandwich or piece of pie awaited you,” Diehl and Hardart wrote.

Soon they expanded to New York, and they eventually opened nearly 200 automats, restaurants and retail stores in Philadelphia and New York. Through the mid-20th century, automats were ubiquitous in the two cities, serving up convenience with a side of futurism.


The arrival of the virus shut down restaurants across the country, then saw them reopen with social distancing and outdoor dining. Face-to-face contact was no longer a plus, but a potential liability. Meanwhile, restaurants grappled with labor shortages. It all made the automat ripe for a comeback.


Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, located in Manhattan’s East Village, opened in spring 2021. Its founder, Stratis Morfogen, said he “fell in love at first sight” when he was taken at the age of 10 by his restaurateur father to a Horn & Hardart in Times Square.

Tonight’s Sky for June:

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