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What: Basil Street Cafe Automated Pizza Kitchen (APK)
Where: The Celtic, 1400 Market Street
When: Sunday to Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
For more information: visit basilstreetpizza.com
What We Saw: The warning informing me that Denver is now home to one of the first automated pizza kitchens at Basil Street Cafe in the country suggested that people may have noticed this when they “went to Market Street.” walked along “at their location” right in front of the Celtic “. “Which made me think it would be … outside. But since there was no pizza on the corner of Market and 14th Street, I went into the Celtic and saw the large green and white machine on a wall to the left of the entrance.
While Basil Street had offered to come over while their representatives were there so they could “guide” [me] through the ordering process, “I had chosen to go alone as a key point of a vending machine is convenience. How hard can it be to get a pizza out of a vending machine?
The answer: not difficult at all once you have found it.
“Are you going to buy one?” the patron who entered directly behind me asked excitedly. “I am,” I replied when I clicked the “Buy Pizza” button on the touchscreen display. “Can we watch?” She asked.
I agreed, but she and her friend soon hiked to the bar as the whole process wasn’t exactly exciting. All of the action takes place inside the machine where you can’t see the steps. Instead, another screen (this one non-interactive) shows a 9News video about Basil Street Cafe’s pizzas, as well as other marketing-related news, in the place you would normally find a window on a vending machine that lets you peek inside the merchandise.
Instead, just choose your toppings from four preset options – Cheese, Hot Pepper, Supreme, or the featured Flavors of the Month, which is currently Buffalo Chicken and Breakfast. I opted for a classic pepperoni, paid for with a credit card ($ 11.95 plus
Within a minute the familiar smell of warmed-up frozen pizza wafted through the air; A short time later, an open cardboard serving tray slowly appeared at the inclined slot; I pulled it out to reveal a small, uncut cake.
A label on top of the slot indicates that pizza cutters are available at the bar. I found an empty stool and the bartender brought an individually wrapped hard plastic pizza cutter.
The crust felt quite dry and hard, but was softer and doughier on the inside than I expected; The peppers were charred around the edges. All in all, it was very similar to any other frozen pizza I’ve eaten in my life: pretty ok. It would certainly have been better if I had it late at night after cocktails. Maybe then I wouldn’t have thought so much about the fact that I’d just spent over $ 12 on a relatively small frozen pizza …
But the pizza was as promised: it was a hot meal purchased with no human interaction (other than the bartender’s pizza cutter) and I managed to get a second slice through, then a third.
While it doesn’t compare to practical cakes from restaurants, the practical approach works for a quick fix.
What amazes us: That no one has brought something like this onto the market before. Americans love pizza and convenience. Hot food vending machines have long been big in other countries, but turning a pizza from frozen to ready in minutes is another level of automated dining. The machine has been in development since 2016, according to Basil Street, and was piloted at five locations in Texas and California after receiving $ 10 million in funding in 2020. The Denver machine is one of fifty the company plans to launch nationwide in 2021.
Top candidates for locations are colleges and airports, but why should the Celtic, a bar that serves food, be interested? “It’s great when the kitchen is closed,” explains the bartender, which is usually around 8 or 9pm, depending on how busy the night is. Since staff shortages are the rule in restaurants these days, this takes some of the workload off the back-of-house team.
While the Celtic Bar has some snacks in stock for late-night purchases, the new pizza machine is ideal for keeping bar-goers in when the need arises for a hot meal – as is often the case when you have a few drinks afterwards dark.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call these pizzas “transcendent” as described on the Basil Street Cafe website, and they certainly won’t replace the type of cakes served in local places like Blue Pan, Newcomers Benzina and Campfire and so many others. But if this machine gives the Celtic a welcome boost and saves a few drinking bar-goers from drinking on empty stomachs, I can stand behind it.
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Molly Martin is Westword’s Food & Drink Editor. She has been writing about the Denver dining scene since 2013 and has eaten her way around town long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito place and spends the nights sipping cocktails on Colfax.