Horn & Hardart
Hot food from a coin-operated slot in the wall? Cheap. AUTOMATic. Modern. And so 1902.
Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart had already achieved local notoriety for the New Orleans style chicory coffee they served at the lunchroom they opened on Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street in 1898 when they introduced the German automat idea to the United States four years later. The idea was simple; prepare the food on one side of the wall and put it in the slot where a customer with coin or token could open a glass door and retrieve the item on the other side of the wall. Horn & Hardart opened their first New York City Automat on Times Square in 1912. Like many things low-brow, Automat architecture over-reached, the Times Square store was fronted by a two-story Spanish Colonial façade and stained glass windows.
The Times Square Automat operated next to the Globe Theater as seen in this view from across 46th Street in 1956. Horn & Hardart’s Automat had a surprisingly long run. They sold off many of their locations to Burger King in the 1970s and the last Automat at 42nd Street & 3rd Avenue closed in 1991.