Remembering The Automat

NYSID staffers recount their sweet Automat memories
(from the May 1991 issue of The Bulletin):

“On Sunday nights, my father and I would always eat at the Automat on Fourteenth Street and Irving Place. I loved the food. It was an opportunity to create incongruous meals, such as baked macaroni with Harvard beets and spaghetti – combinations that would have made my mother shudder. I still can’t eat baked beans without thinking of the place.” - Steve Maluk

“My first memories of the Automat are from 1927. I worked that summer as a clerk at Metropolitan Life earning $20 a week. The Automat’s chopped steak (35˘), mashed potatoes (5˘), creamed spinach (5˘), apple pie (10˘), and coffee (5˘) helped keep me going. What I remember most about the Automat is that they never compromised on quality – when they said chopped steak, they meant chopped steak.”
- James Gardner

“I reacall the expert change-makers who would sit in their kiosks converting dollars to nickels at remarkable speeds. My favorite dishes included Harvard beets and the coconut custard pie.”
- Stan Dorf

“The ornate coffee spout. Brewing coffee in a Finnish home is an art form, having it spill from the silver spout turned it into a religious one! The little doors – solid glass, bound by thick lead. The entire place had an important feel, as if more than just the buying and eating of food was going on. It was a wondrous, magical land.”
- Lynn Lodato

“A unique aspect of the Automat at 72nd and Broadway was its section reserved for ‘unattended ladies.’ Each table had a flower on it and elderly women of modest means would sit and chat over Kaiser rolls and coffee. I loved the Automat’s custard cup and cinnamon butterfly cakes.”
- Milton Freedman

“One Saturday evening in the mid-sixties, my future wife and I along with two other couples decided to dine in style at the Automat. We brought a tablecloth, flowers and silverware to the Automat at Forty-second Street and Third Avenue. A Daily News photographer captured the moment.” (See photo below).
- Lloyd Franks