The New York restaurateur behind a new franchise called Brooklyn Dumpling Shop believes prime time has returned for the automat, where food is placed in hot or cold lockers for customers to grab and go.
“My attraction to the automat—cost effective, eliminating the chance of any kind of errors, and limiting your payroll,” said Stratis Morfogen, best known for his Brooklyn Chop House and founder of the Philippe Chow Restaurant Group.
He plans to use robotics, infrared sanitation and other technology to make Brooklyn Dumpling Shop super-efficient. “My goal is to get payroll down to 12 percent, and if I can do that I’ll revolutionize fast food,” he said.
“It’s 7 feet high and it comes in 3-foot sections,” he said. “The rows of lockers, they’re all digital, they’re all Instagrammable. When you have the hot dumplings or hot wontons,” the red light will come on. “Or if you have a beer, the blue will come on.”
“Hollywood Squares, it will be like that. That’s the first time I’ve used that analogy,” Morfogen said with a laugh.
At his fine-dining Brooklyn Chop House, he had dedicated a small area in the kitchen to making dumplings, with flavors such as Philly cheesesteak or French onion soup or peanut butter and jelly, and they started selling like crazy while requiring just one staff member to steam the dumplings and pump out the orders.
Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart and a well-known backer of franchise concepts from Five Guys to Qdoba to Halal Guys, hit up Morfogen on social media and a partnership was born. “I reached out to him one day, and said I’m in New York a lot, let’s meet up. He brought out all these dumplings, and I got sad, because I wasn’t working with him,” recalled Rowe.