New documentary covers history of vending machine restaurants

Reel deal for the machine

the vending machine a famous restaurant of the 60’s and 70’s, may come back. Not his prices.

Self service, coin operated, no waiting, no tip, no waiters, no reservations, a cashier changed for nickels, dimes, quarters. Menu? Forget about a wedding or bar mitzvah. We’re talking macaroni and cheese, Salisbury steak, refried beans, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, soup, sandwiches, really crappy lemon meringue pie, and two nickels for coffee.

Operated by Horn & Hardart, the last – 42nd and 3rd – closed in 1991. The cheap op was eating behind little glass doors with metal rings. Insert coins into the slot, remove your selection, servers behind the walls keep the selection refilled.

Everyone went. The big name in radio in those years was comedian Jack Benny. In the ’60s he threw a star-studded gala in one of those crappy vending machines with their wooden tables, wooden chairs, paper napkins, bus your own dishes, buy them with your spare change. Only cheap fast food. Invitations only. Black tie. Guests like Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Veronica Lake, Gene Kelly.

I was nobody I was just the wife of comedian Joey Adams, then president of the theater union AGVA, American Guild of Variety Artists. I know all this because I was there.

Jack Benny gave each of us a roll of paper with coins. It was helping himself to choose his own dinner, carrying it, lugging it to every rickety table available, transporting his dishes himself.

There is now a documentary about the chain Horn & Hardart in the cinemas. This bite into yesterday’s America was loved by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Colin Powell, Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Our economic downturn has started talking about bringing back the vending machine. The only difference might be the lemon meringue cake. Still crappy, but could cost more than a penny now.

A life in a cage?

Nicolas Cage plays himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. The comedy is about him.

Nic: “It’s a fictional, surrealistic, abstract, comical account of a week in my life. A highlight of how I was perceived in the media. Blips in my life that have gone public. My interviews and what I’m interested in.” (In it he gets a million dollars to show up at a rich fan’s party.) “And some elements of it are true,” he said.

Nicolas Cage at the premiere of "The unbearable weight of massive talent" in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2022.
Nicolas Cage at the premiere of “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2022.
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for SXSW

With Tiffany Haddish and Neil Patrick Harris, things are creeping out on April 22nd.

Ruff selection

Putin’s feces have gone to the dogs. Even four-legged friends react to the Ukraine horror. The American Kennel Club, with a 146-year-old show, is so busy that it only allows 2,500 participants. It has just concluded its annual competition showcasing the best of breeds and champions on the planet, and is no longer accepting entries – hounds or judges – from Russia. The annual televised event, which has been postponed due to the pandemic, will take place in June.

His civic duty

A note on how wonderful our new mayor is. He is ruled Individuals convicted of marijuana-related offenses could now be the first to sell marijuana. Great. But homelessness, crime, filth, trash, police at risk, residents moving out, affordable housing, subways, high prices, closed places, nutritional issues, traffic congestion, cost of living — forget it. Now, at a party, on camera, he says he’s mayor of all of New York City, including nightlife. Are we lucky or what?

Russian away

Politics Ex-radio/TV commentator Dennis Miller? For two years he has been presenting an interview program on Russian television. William Shatner aka Captain Kirk also syndicated a show on RT. After Putin’s invasion, both left.

Manhattan’s congested divorce courts are relaxing. A financier initiated separation proceedings three weeks before his wedding.

Only in New York, kids, only in New York. New documentary covers history of vending machine restaurants


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