Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Horn and Hardart Revisited

A Blue Sky idea that keeps coming into my head is to recreate one of the Horn and Hardart automats that opened in the beginning of the 20th century and faded out towards the end.  I even have a fond memory of visiting an automat in Manhattan in the 1970s.

The concept was relatively simple.  Patrons retrieved their food from a large bank of window-covered slots much like an oversized vending machine.  However, behind the wall were preparers ready to restock food items taken by opening the windowed doors.  It was quick and cost-effective and remained popular for decades.  However, the rise of the fast-food restaurant has been linked to the automat's decline.

Nostaligia for automats exists and there's even a tribute site  Attempts to revive them on a large scale have been made unsuccessfully.  So, instead of large scale, why not have a focused working tribute?  The automat has that Art Deco blend of retro and future which makes it a good candidate Disney's Hollywood Studios.  I was disappointed with the loss of the breakfast service at the ABC Commissary which left Anaheim Produce, Starring Rolls, and the Hollywood and Vine character buffet as the breakfast locations.  An automat could bring breakfast back to that side of the park while maintaining the other meal services as well.   The automats also have an east coast association especially with New York City.  That suggests a location on the Streets of America.
Automats could serve large groups of people fast and with a measurable amount of style in the look of the dining area.  This was especially true of the older, 1920s and 1930s locations.  It also offered a wider variety than is typically served at the Disney counter services.  The novelty of opening up a door and getting a snack or meal isn't lost on children.   It includes an element of fun.  So, guests can experience dining in the future that never was and always will be.

- Jeff 

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