Yes, it’s a publicity stunt, but we have a major soft spot for automats, so check out the pop-up promoting America’s Next Great Restaurant that’ll be in Grand Central on March 3 and 4 for lunch (11 a.m. till 1 p.m.) and dinner (5 till 7 p.m.). On March 4, Bobby Flay and Curtis Stone will be on hand to dole out free snacks from the menu inspired by concepts from the show. In 1979, when Horn & Hardart’s 40 or so automats had dwindled to two, Studs Lonigan author James T. Farrell wrote (in the pages of New York) about frequenting automats while he was living on 50 cents a day. The Times mourned the closing of the last unit, on East 42nd Street, in 1991. If all this inspires you to bring back coin-slot cuisine in a more permanent way, and you think you can do better than Bamn! The Automat did, Steve Stollman (the same guy who’s selling the bar from Lüchow’s) may still have some machines lying around.
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