Today’s vending machines defy expectations and are predicted to transform the segment into a $5.4 billion business by 2023. NYC bar Existing Conditions has two 1960s vending machines offering guests prefab cocktails while they wait, while New York’s whole-animal butcher shop Applestone Meat Co. (shown) allows customers to purchase fresh-cut meat from automated vending machines.

“Plain and simple—people live busy, complex lives. We realized that a 24/7 self-serving butcher shop would be a huge convenience,” says owner Joshua Applestone. The company launched in 2016 at its Accord, N.Y., facility and is now also available in Stone Ridge, N.Y. “We currently use existing machines that are retrofitted for meat vending,” says Applestone. The company offers all cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and sausages. “At the moment, that means a rotating selection of 195 items depending on the day,” Applestone says. During regular business hours, an on-site attendant at a service window sells meat and offers advice on cooking methods.

The machines are stocked daily. The company plans to open stores in Hudson and Westchester, N.Y., by 2019, with locations in Manhattan to follow. 

As for consumer comfort? “When people come in and use the machines once, we see them come back again and again,” Applestone says.

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