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MMD > Archives > January 2001 > 2001.01.21 > 02Prev  Next

Horn & Hardart Automat
By Matthew Caulfield

>[ A composition by P.D.Q. Bach (Prof. Peter Schickele) is entitled
>[ "Concerto for Horn and Hardart", which suggests 17th century wind
>[ instruments, but it's actually the name of a coin-op cafeteria in
>[ New York City!  (So I am told.)  -- Robbie

Robbie,  You must be old enough to remember hearing about (or even
using, if you were in New York City) the Horn & Hardart Automat.
Here is a paragraph from the Web about the company.  I see the name
still is in use for a coffee shop/bakery outfit.

  "Horn & Hardart was a Philadelphia and New York restaurant chain
that also had stores specializing in take-out.  With the TV and radio
advertising motto "Less work for mother," they actually pioneered the
concept of prepared foods to eat at home.  The restaurants were called
Automats because, besides a cafeteria line, they featured food behind
tiny glass windows that was accessed by putting a few nickels in the
slots.  The last Automat -- on Third Ave. and 42nd St. -- closed only
about 10 years ago.  It's now a GAP.  But New Yorkers and Philadelphians
old enough to have experienced Horn & Hardart have deep nostalgia for
many of its specialties.  The mac and cheese is probably prime among

This is from the on-line Encyclopedia Britannica article:

  "Automat  --

  "in full <Horn & Hardart Automat>, any of a chain of cafeterias in
New York City and Philadelphia, where low-priced prepared food and
beverages were obtained, especially from coin-operated compartments.

  "Joseph V. Horn and Frank Hardart opened their first lunchroom in
Philadelphia in 1888, and ten years later they incorporated the
business as a commissary and catering service.  In 1902 they opened
their first Automat at 818 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, employing
'waiterless restaurant' equipment that they had imported from Berlin
(where a local 'Automat' restaurant had proved successful).  The first
New York City Horn & Hardart Automat opened in 1912 on Times Square.

  "In 1924 the company opened the first take-out stores, selling
prepackaged Automat food.  Automats flourished in the first half of the
20th century, but their profitability gradually declined, and the last
remaining one, at 200 East 42nd Street in New York City, closed its
doors on April 9, 1991."

Matthew Caulfield

 [ I recall that, after leaving Ampico, inventor Charles F. Stoddard
 [ turned to developing equipment for the automat cafeterias.
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Sun 21 Jan 2001, 15:02:54 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Automat, Hardart, Horn

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