For many the typical work day includes buying lunch, then going to a restaurant or picking up food on the way home. With so many now working from home these options are unavailable leaving food delivery services as their only purchase option.
One enterprising company, Alchemista, offers food dispensing machines for building lobbies. Residents walk to their lobby, look through the window of a temperature-controlled locker, and select from a variety of freshly prepared options. Machines are restocked daily with some products sourced from local restaurants.
From home, they scan a QR code with their phone for a daily menu of gourmet hot dishes that may include ribs, lasagna or risotto from local establishments. Once at the food locker, they scan a QR code to choose a meal. Doors automatically open. Each locker is programed to remain hot or cold so food remains at a proper temperature. In addition to meals, machines stock snacks, sauces, condiments, bread and other items.
These modern-day food lockers, never intended for residential buildings, will hopefully make their way from Boston to Toronto. The idea came from a catering company reinventing their business when large offices closed during the pandemic and cancelled their contracts. They developed the technology prior to the pandemic but were unable to find an interested market.
In Boston their food lockers are a sought-after amenity. High-rise condominiums with younger and highly paid professionals that rarely or never cook are an ideal location. They offer an alternate way for struggling restaurants to provide food without relying on third-party delivery services that often deliver food cold. After a month of operation, food lockers were in 10 buildings throughout the city with a waiting list of over 60 residential buildings.
Businesses remaining open are interested in their food lockers to replace lunchrooms and buffet-style meals that are difficult to provide in a sufficiently safe manner during the pandemic.
One of the first locations was Moderna where employees could enjoy healthy and tasty meals while creating their vaccine.