The Return of the Automat?

I’m going to make a prediction here, starting either this year or next, you will start to see self-checkout systems at fast food joints. Now I wasn’t alive when these were big, but many decades ago they used to have these places called Automats, where one picked an item plunked down some change in a machine and you got a fresh meal. Think sorta like a room with vending machines and tables and a microwave today, only back then it was a hot meal already made.

An automat from 1904

I think you could start to see that again where one goes into a Burger King (for example), play with a touch screen and up comes your food. This isn’t a slam on raising the minimum wage, but you have to consider the laws of economics (especially with incentives and cost substitution). As would a consumer pick a viable substitute item if their first choice was beyond their budget, so would a business owner seek to do the same if there was a viable labor substitute.


  • Tommy Jensen

    February 17, 2014

    MAybe we will se more to it in the future, I were in The Netherlands some time ago, and there the automat still exists, in Amsterdam, they are all over.. 🙂 You can see the Automats here

    Regards Tommy

    • juan

      March 10, 2014

      Perhaps so. There aren’t that many here in Chicago, but I read that two were actually opening up.


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