Why the automat has inspired so many modern copycats

Restaurant Rewind: The lemon meringue pie helped, but it really was an early flash of price-cutting technology.

Yet another modern riff on the Automat has called it quits, extending the lengthy list of ventures that have fallen far short of the original’s 89-year run. What about that pioneer of restaurant technology has prompted so many entrepreneurs to give an updated version a try?

Restaurant Business Editor At Large Peter Romeo looks back at the attractions and drawbacks of the seminal concept in this week’s edition of his retro-focused Restaurant Rewind podcast.

Using the lens of his own experiences with the Horn & Hardart Automat, he provides a consumer’s perspective on why the brand originally found traction with New York City tourists and office workers, only to be driven into a grave by rising prices and the onslaught of fast-food in the 1960s and ’70s.

Download the installment and every episode of Restaurant Rewind from wherever you get your podcasts.

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