For diners in a rush, there’s a new option besides the drive-through window: They can stop by the Smart Butcher vending machine to pick up dinner with the push of a button.
Developed by Rob Harrison and Chase Evans of Birmingham, Ala., the Smart Butcher vending machine doesn’t offer soda or candy but instead specially packaged cuts of meat.
Harrison came up with the idea while driving home through rural Alabama and seeing a small meat market on the side of the road. After considering the amount of overhead necessary to start a meat market, Harrison got the idea for the Smart Butcher machine as a way to offer easy-to-find cheap meat in rural areas.
”It really just snapped on me — what if we could vend it?” said Harrison.
Currently there is only one Smart Butcher ” machine in operation. Housed at the Lil Mart in Odenville, Ala., the machine has become a hit at the small market.
Manager Amir Sagani said he was thrilled to be the first to try out the machine. “I was excited about it,” said Sagani. ”I said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could have a vending machine that could have a steak on it.’”
Sagani’s wife, Anna Sagani, says the machine has become a draw for the market, with people driving in specifically to see the machine in action.
“First people’s reactions [were], ‘Oh no!’ and then they started using it,” said Anna Sagani.
She said that the machine appealed to customers who wanted to avoid long lines at the grocery store. “For movie night you get a steak, and you’re good to go,” said Anna Sagani.
Currently, the Smart Butcher offers a range of meat products, including pork chops, sausages and rib-eye steaks, none costing more than $7.95.
Evans said the reaction to the Smart Butcher has been split about “50-50? between positive and negative. “We’ve had everything from, ‘Wow, that’s a crazy idea’ [to] ‘I wish I had thought of that.’”