American cities are filled with fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Subway. As a result, modern restaurant entrepreneurs have to think creatively to separate themselves from the pack. Bamn!, a new restaurant in New York City, has found a way to stand out, by reverting back to the past. For producers Ade Astuti and Nia Sutadi, VOA's Tony Budny has more.
A new hot spot has emerged in New York -- Bamn! -- a restaurant without tables or chairs. Instead, this 55 square meter restaurant features a wall of coin-operated window boxes full of all sorts of tasty treats, from grilled cheese sandwiches to corn dogs.
Tucked in between Japanese restaurants and tattoo parlors, Bamn! is a modern twist on the popular 20th century automat. David Leong and Nobu Nguyen, the founders of Bamn!, say that they want a new generation of New Yorkers to experience the historic automat.
But Bamn! is no relic from the past. With hot pink walls, neon signs and Asian and American cuisine, Bamn! is every bit a new establishment. Bamn!'s contemporary decorations and finger-friendly menu make the restaurant unique, even in a city as colorful as New York.
"It's a very novel place,” said one man. “It's very different from the other places in St. Marks [a neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City].
The entrepreneurs place great value on efficiency, by shortening the amount of time it takes for customers to purchase a meal.
Another customer said, "It's really nice. I mean, you don't have to deal with waiting in line. Because you just have to go up to the thing. And they have different kinds of food."
The founders of Bamn! have ensured that the dishes they sell in the coin operated compartments will not taste like they come from a vending machine. Leong and Nobu hired Kevin Reilly, the executive chef at the Water Club in New York, as their consulting chef. Reilly says it was their commitment to use restaurant-quality ingredients that convinced him to join the Bamn! team.
As consumer demands evolve in the 21st century, it is difficult to predict the direction of the restaurant industry. However, Bamn!'s success and the returning popularity of the automat suggests that the "fast food" industry may need to look to the past in order to remain competitive.