In the midst of a pandemic, social distancing and exposure concerns make running a restaurant where patrons feel safe difficult. However, one New York-based concept has figured out an angle — bringing back the automat. And one might be opening near you soon.
Automats, which were popular in the early 20th century, are fast-food restaurants where food is served through vending machines. The concept eventually went by the wayside as places like McDonald’s rose to popularity, but Brooklyn Dumpling Shop founder Stratis Morfogen brought it back earlier this year with newer technology and an even more innovative concept.
“Brooklyn Dumpling Shop is booming with growth as the concept resonates with more and more customers in different regions,” says Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop’s franchise development partner. “It’s an incomparable brand — the reimagination of the automat concept is enough to get people in the door, but the high-quality and uniqueness of the dumplings is what keeps customers coming back every time.”
Customers can walk into a Brooklyn Dumpling Shop 24 hours a day and use a touch screen to choose and pay for their desired food. A temperature-controlled food locker then opens, revealing the selected items, which could include 32 different dumpling varieties plus many drink and appetizer options.
And this isn’t your typical fast food joint nor will you find food like this in Chinatown. Rather than getting a cheeseburger, you might get a cheeseburger dumpling. Craving a gyro or a philly cheesesteak? They’ve got dumplings for that, too. While the crazy dumplings are what you come for, the menu also includes wontons, potstickers, spring rolls, dessert dumplings and even some alcoholic drink choices.
Just last week a multi-unit franchise deal was signed with Sam Cole that will bring five Brooklyn Dumpling Shops to the Dallas area; making a total of 34 locations. After opening their first spot in 2002, the franchise aims to have 500 locations within five years.
“We can’t wait to bring Brooklyn Dumpling Shop to the great state of Texas,” Morfogen says. “We’re seeing a ton of excitement about this on social media and look forward to working with the Cole family to share our unique concept with the Dallas community.”
While an opening date hasn’t been released to the public yet, we can keep dreaming of the 2 a.m. runs to Brooklyn Dumpling Shop for pepperoni pizza dumplings in our future.