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NYC Automat Announces Massive Deal to Franchise 500 Locations in North America

Plus, Italian restaurant Sant Ambroeus opens a new coffee bar at Brookfield Place — and more intel

A rendering which shows stacks of glass boxes with menu boards above them
A rendering of East Village’s Brooklyn Dumpling Shop
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NYC-based automat strikes deal to expand across North America

Automats may be poised to make a big comeback during the pandemic. Stratis Morfogen, owner of yet-to-open, touch-free automat Brooklyn Dumpling Shop in the East Village, already has far-reaching expansion plans in the works. The Wall Street Journal reports that Morfogen inked a deal with franchise-development company Fransmart to sell 500 automat franchises in North America over the next 10 years. The financial terms of the investment deal were not disclosed.

According to the report, Jersey City will also be getting an automat by the end of the year. Automat Kitchen, from owner Joe Scutellaro, will sell comfort food staples like pastrami sandwiches and chicken-and-dumpling pot pies.

The news signals what may be a larger comeback for automats in NYC and elsewhere as restaurants struggle to adapt to selling food during a pandemic. Automats are generally outfitted to sell food to customers without any human interaction, similar to a vending machine. They previously gained popularity after the Spanish Flu pandemic ended in the early 1900s, according to the Wall Street Journal, but largely fell out of favor in subsequent decades, while quick-service chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s multiplied across the country. Now, owners are betting that customers may be more open to an automat’s style of service amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other news

— Italian import Sant Ambroeus is moving ahead with its downtown expansion plans at Brookfield Place. The new restaurant’s coffee bar opens this week, with the restaurant itself to follow at a later date, according to Tribeca Citizen.

— Long live NYC’s mid-pandemic bakery boom.

— Gothamist’s Scott Lynch stops by Jahn’s, the decades-old Jackson Heights diner and ice cream parlor, which has stayed open throughout the pandemic.

— Pier 17’s sell-out rooftop lawns at the South Street Seaport are converting into personal cabins that customers can reserve through the winter months.

— Buzzy downtown restaurant Kimika has put together a Thanksgiving takeout meal package that includes turchetta or porchetta with truffle gravy and miso mustard, a seaweed foccaccia, Japanese sweet rice stuffing, and more. The packages serve four to six people and cost $395 apiece, according to a restaurant spokesperson. They are available for pickup on November 24 and 25, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

— Pile it on:

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