FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) You ever get that craving for a juicy steak at 11:30 at night, and you check your fridge and it’s empty? A crisis ensues… What are you going to do?
Well, the Midtown Butcher in Florence has solved this problem. At the shop, there is a one-of-a-kind way for customers to get meat at all hours of the day.
Once customers enter the doors of the shop, they are greeted with the Butcher Bot – a 24/7 meat vending machine filled with the shop’s best-selling products.
“Shock and awe,” said shop owner Billy Robertson. “I was a much younger man when I started. I think it aged me about ten years, but long story short it came from China so, of course, it was programmed in Chinese and luckily we had some people here that were able to help re-program it to English, changing it from yen to U.S. dollars.”
Robertson has had this idea for nearly a quarter of a century after a strange experience while serving in the Air Force.
“I was on deployment we stopped through Yokota airbase, and I actually purchased shrimp cocktail out of a vending machine,” Robertson recalled.
The machine can be found near the entrance to the shop. As for how it works, customers come up to the machine and are able to look at the options on a screen, and select the meat they’d like to purchase. Then, they’ll be prompted to insert a credit card.
And like any traditional vending machine, the machine will grab the product, drop it down and it can be picked up from the bottom.
Since the bot is open continuously, meat is up for purchase at all hours.
“It was strange I think someone must have realized they didn’t have sausage for breakfast because we had a purchase for one of our black oak sausages at six o’clock,” Robertson said.
All the products are cut in-house and vacuum sealed before being put into the machine.
“We actually take whatever cuts are needed out there we vax seal them put them in the machine and swap them out,” Robertson said, “We have a seven-day shelf life but we actually try to go above and beyond, so at five days we pull them and well either donate those to local charities or we’ll dispose of them.”
Robertson is also thinking about adding premade sandwiches and cold cuts to his selection, so who knows one day soon – there could even be a ‘deli on demand.’