Date: Thu, 23 Nov 1995 07:11:09 -0500 From: SETH SKLAREY Subject: Re: The Automat The following discussion would not be complete without a discourse on the automat, a uniquely New York phenomenon in which the patron approached a wall of food in individual glassed front cubicles each just large enough to contain the food item on a plate. Nickels, dimes and/or quarters were put into the slots at each cubicle and the door popped open for you to obtain the food. What you saw was what you got, with no surly help to contend with. I believe the places were called Horn & Hardardt's Automat, but it was a long time ago. Can anybody add some info? Seth Sklarey Wittgenstein School of the Unwritten Word Coconut Grove, FL crissiet[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] JRKing >deputy news editor >The New York Times WROTE: >>"Dining hall" always worked for me. If nothing else, it's two >>syllables shorter than "cafeteria," which is an advantage for a >>word you use a lot. > >This is veering away from political correctness back to more strictly >linguistic area, I suppose, but I was struck by this post and the ones >that prompted it. > >In my own personal lexicon, "cafeteria" connotes a place where the >offerings are individually priced: a fish filet is $2.25, a dish of >green beans (or string beans) is 55 cents, a carton of milk is 40 >cents, a pat of butter is three cents. The patron chooses individual >items and is charged accordingly. Where the patron is served a set meal >at a set price, even if he picks up a plastic tray and stands in line >to be served, is not a cafeteria, nor is a place where one picks and >chooses among numerous offerings but is charged the same total price no >matter what. > >Thus the place I ate in grade school, where there were no choices, you >ate what the little old hair-netted ladies dished out, was not a >cafeteria, it was the "lunchroom." When we got to high school, and >could choose the 55-cent hamburger or the 75-cent chicken fried steak, >it was a "cafeteria." And then in college, where we could choose the >hamburger or the chicken fried steak or the yogurt, but whatever we >chose it was going to cost $1800 a year regardless, it was the "dining >center" or one of the "dining halls" or "dining rooms," not a >cafeteria. In the commercial context, the Furr's and Luby's chains (or >the greatest of all, Bryce's in Texarkana) are "cafeterias," but I'd >never refer to the elaborate "hot food bar" setups at chain steakhouses >and the like as a "cafeteria"; generically, they are "buffets." > >Is this how-you-pay distinction not inherent in others' understanding >and use of the term "cafeteria"? > >(And then there are the Korean delis which offer a slightly more >noodle-oriented version of Ponderosa's hot food bar except you pay by >the ounce instead of a set price -- a system that falls outside either >"cafeteria" or "buffet" in my language.) > >Curious. > >JRKing >deputy news editor >The New York Times > >