April 15, 2022 to April 18, 2022
To Be Determined
Americans once sipped coffee and ate pie around communal tables, sharing their struggles and dreams with strangers at Horn & Hardart’s iconic Automat. Lifetimes ago, these working class palaces nourished a sense of unity that bridged the diversity of class, language, gender and race in the urban melting pots of the East Coast.
The story begins in a booming Philadelphia in the late 1800s. White-collar workers are flooding into the offices of newly built skyscrapers, and lunchrooms are springing up to feed them. Coentrepreneurs Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart seize their chance and by the early 1900s have BUILT a thriving chain of small restaurants and cafeterias, the latter a brand new trend of its own. Hardart brings back from Europe inspiration for the Automat, a ‘waiterless’ cafeteria that proves enormously popular, making the Horn and Hardart chain the dominant American restaurant company for the next half century. Kings of the New York and Philly restaurant scenes, the Automats feed millions throughout the Depression and two World Wars, serving all comers in palaces of marble, silver, and steel. Good food served cheap, and the enduring thrill of the automat machines themselves wins the Automat a place in our culture and hearts alike.
Travel back in time to experience this unique piece of America’s history, an exciting story and one that may seem strangely familiar. More than just entertainment, THE AUTOMAT is a parable of how we once dined happily together before turning to the isolated and unhappy experience offered by fast food, a bad deal that no amount of advertising can disguise