Vending Machines Now Distributing $ 30 Steaks, Cakes & Champagne | Food and drink

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla .– South Florida quick eaters in search of restaurant-quality cuisine can now discover high-end dishes in the strangest places: fancy vending machines.

Restaurants, food halls, hotels, hospitals and shopping malls are now enticing customers with touchscreen machines selling $ 30 of grass-fed rib eye and food made and shipped direct from local restaurants. Here is an example :

– The Terrace Grill, located on the sixth floor of the trendy Dalmar Fort Lauderdale hotel, houses a Moet & Chandon machine offering $ 30 mini-bottles of champagne.

– The Jarden Smart Market at the Palm Beach Outlets sells take-out salads, cold-pressed juices and other restaurant-quality dishes.

– Customers can prepare 50 international flavors of licorice and 45 types of hard pretzels in the machines at Delray Beach Market.

– At Carlo’s Bakery in Sawgrass Mills Mall, a video by Buddy Valastro, TLC’s “Cake Boss,” pleads with shoppers to indulge in $ 7 rainbow cake patties.

Call them modern vending machines, or maybe the next generation of vending machines. Robert Siegmann, owner of 12 sophisticated machines in Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Florida, calls them surefire money makers in a pandemic.

The owner of health food restaurant Icebox Cafe in Hallandale Beach says vending machines aren’t replacing restaurants, but in an era of hospitality worker shortages, they are replacing waiters.

“Restaurants are suffering from workforce issues, so this is one way to solve this dilemma,” Siegmann said. “It’s a huge gamble right now to invest a million dollars in a full-service restaurant. Or you can spend $ 15,000 on a vending machine, have it branded and installed, and if that doesn’t work, just unplug it and put it somewhere else.

The machines are also heavier and crammed with gadgets that prevent customers from hugging bears and shaking the machines in frustration. Yes, food gets stuck, but “much less often” than the snack machines of yesteryear, Siegmann adds.

“We are now dealing with highly technical vending machines and these advancements lead to a number of issues that you have to deal with,” he says.

Still, that hardly deters restaurants from cramming into the fancy vending machine arena. The Brooklyn Dumpling Shop in New York will bring automatic dumpling machines to five locations between Miami and Orlando over the next year. The machines are contactless – customers order with smartphones – and fresh dumplings sit behind tiny glass windows that resemble mini-microwaves. Flavors include Reuben, Lamb Gyro, and Bacon Pepper Cheeseburger.

In a press release touting franchise opportunities with a company called Fransmart, owner Dan Rowe said these automatic machines “will be in all major markets across the country in no time.”

“The revival of the concept of automaton is ingenious, in particular to combat the current problem of shortage of manpower which we see across the country,” he says. Sell ​​”like gangbusters”

In the kitchen of the Icebox Cafe, it takes 25 chefs, line cooks and production packers to restock Siegmann’s 12 Icebox vending machines with Moroccan chicken bowls, chipotle turkey on fresh multigrain, bites of cheesecake and very lick cakes. An 8-foot-tall orange touchscreen machine in Icebox’s dining room costs $ 6.50 to $ 9 per takeout. You need debit, credit, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, but not cash.

Pastry chef Maggie Valliant bakes 60 cakes each morning in the Icebox kitchen. Forty of them find themselves in front of Icebox machines parked in strategic locations with heavy foot traffic, including the lobby of the Alluvion Las Olas luxury residential tower, an Audi dealership in North Miami and the University of Miami. The remainder is served to patrons of the Icebox Cafe restaurant and its two stores at Miami International Airport.

“Every three days we have to restock the machines,” says Valliant, spreading buttercream on a red velvet cake. “People take pictures of machines all the time and that makes me happy, you know?” They do this because of the quality of my food.

Siegmann launched Icebox Cafe’s fleet of vending machines a few months before COVID-19, then added more when its take-out meals sold “like gangbusters” amid pandemic shutdowns. Millennials and Gen Z use them the most, and Siegmann is negotiating with college campuses, malls, and hospitals to carry more.

“Consumers are more tech savvy, demanding more food on the fly and at their own pace,” he says. “If you install machines that pose less financial risk to businesses that don’t have to deal with food waste and labor costs, that’s a huge savings. “

The novelty dispenser boxes are also more sophisticated. Their artificial intelligence unearths last-minute consumption data that restaurants covet: customers’ eating habits, age groups, best-selling dishes. Everything is accessible from a smartphone.

This is what seduced the chef of Palm Beach Thierry Beaud. Fearing the closures would kill business at his upscale raw bar PB Catch and French bistro Pistache, Beaud teamed up with fellow restaurateurs Hess Musallet (Field of Greens) and Dylan Lipton (Benny’s on the Beach) to create Jarden Smart Market.

“We were worried about what the future had in mind for us, so we invested in safer, less virus-transmitting business models,” Beaud said of the vending machine turmoil.

Their Jarden Smart Markets sell colorful, layered salads in recyclable jars, as well as kombucha, cold brew coffee, and cold-pressed juices. Chefs prepare salads at partner restaurants and ship them to outlet machines in Palm Beach, downtown West Palm Beach, and Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. Next, a Jarden will debut at Wellington Regional Hospital on October 29.

The machines are temperature-controlled and customers can scan ingredients before purchasing on a 27-inch touchscreen, adds Musallet. The chef says Jarden is inspired by Chicago-based Farmer’s Fridge, whose 400 vending machines in six states have sold 3.7 million meals.

“We bring our culinary experience and our knowledge of market needs,” says Musallet. Jarden machines can be installed in luxurious environments, but their customer base consists of employees working in these fields, not wealthy people. “Places like universities and public schools don’t have easy access to healthy food. How many times have you been to a hospital cafeteria and thought, “I can’t eat this”? “

Beaud is trying to change the stigma surrounding the vending machines of old, the guys who handed out chips and cookies loaded with preservatives.

“Before, selling was shit,” he says. “The automatons used to have high sodium and starch TV dinners. But young people are more open to things that involve cool technology and a digital experience. »Eye candy

At the Delray Beach Market, fantasy Licorice.com The 50 international flavor vending machine is treated like any other restaurant, says Bob Higginbotham, food and beverage manager for the dining room.

Customers in the market – their demographic is 25 to 45 – are already drawn to too many options, ready for the dopamine hit of colorful boba teas, burgers and cakes in all directions. A red and black striped licorice machine selling old-fashioned wrapped candy tubes for $ 15 is not only eye-catching but Instagrammable, he says.

“The power of impulse buying in the market is enormous, and the licorice machine stands out,” says Higginbotham. “It doesn’t generate as much income as the burger stand, but for us it is a substantial source of income.”

Adam Struhl from Boca Raton and his father, Warren, operate the liquorice machine, which sells flavors from Finland, Australia and Holland. A frequent traveler, Struhl, 30, understood the powerful appeal of convenience: he couldn’t count the “embarrassing” number of times he had to buy headphones from vending machines at airport terminals.

“Everyone has a history of licorice, or has family members who love it,” says Struhl, whose vending machine debuted in April. “Now more than ever, people want an experience, and when you hit the touchscreen you can cycle through the flavors, read the story, chat with your friend to see which one you’re going to get.”

In two weeks, Struhl will launch a second smart vending machine next door, Pretzels.com, selling 45 varieties of hard pretzels ($ 12 a tube), with flavors ranging from strawberry margarita to bacon-bourbon jam. While sourcing licorice from international suppliers, the Struhl team prepares the pretzels in a warehouse in Delray Beach.

Higginbotham is already a fan. “I’m generally not that enthusiastic about hard pretzels,” he says. “But I have to tell you, it was delicious.”

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