Directed by Lisa Hurwitz
$12 / $8 Speed members
“Joyous and a hoot to watch.”—Pete Hammond, Deadline
Before fast food, one American empire was unstoppable—The Automat. It served affordable-priced quality food to millions for more than a century offering comfortable interiors, and state of technology. The chain welcomed those who had been ignored, including immigrants, the working class, African Americans, and women—all of whom were not welcome in restaurants in the early part of the 20th century.
At The Automat, customers put nickels into slots, and little windows open to reveal the customer’s pick, be it a slice of pie, macaroni, and cheese, or a Salisbury steak. The gleaming glass and stainless-steel windows were sleek and like nothing else. This documentary illustrates how the restaurant served the public with great food and treated its employees with fairness and integrity.
Mel Brooks is one of serval prominent Americans paying homage to the memory of The Automat and composed the song “(There Was Nothing Like The Coffee) At the Automat” for the film. Others weighing in on their experiences include Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and actors Carl Reiner and Elliott Gould. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival to great acclaim. 2021, U.S., DCP, 79 minutes. Recommended for all ages.