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French restaurant sells homemade dishes via vending machine

Four-to-six freshly-made dishes, including chocolate mousse, foie gras and andouillette, are on offer each day

A professional restaurant kitchen packages up food in takeaway boxes

The restaurant has been packaging its dishes up in takeaway boxes and selling them via vending machine Pic: Iskra Antova / Shutterstock

Forget crisps and chocolate bars, a vending machine in western France is now selling homemade restaurant food, including delicacies such as foie gras and andouillette.

The La Cour restaurant in Ruelle (Charente) has made some of its most traditional, homemade dishes available 24/7 via chilled vending machine after seeing a drop in customer numbers due to Covid.

Restaurant manager Martine Valladas told BFMTV: “It started from a very simple realisation. Because of the pandemic, we lost a lot of clientele: Between people home-working, those who were sick, those who were afraid of getting Covid, those who didn’t have a health pass [and now vaccine pass]…”

Ms Valladas has run the restaurant with her husband for 15 years, along with four staff. The machine cost €27,000, but the team considered it a good investment, given the health situation.

She said: “It’s been necessary to adapt to new consumer habits…Twice a day, we fill the machine with freshly-cooked dishes from our restaurant. Everything is homemade and we try to offer different dishes every day. 

“The vending machine has capacity for 40 units, and we are offering four to six different dishes per day.”

The dishes are packaged in aluminium foil with paper tops, like traditional takeaways. Prices range from €3.50 for a chocolate mousse, to €17 for traditional ris de veau (veal sweetbreads).

“We are also offering andouillettes, lamb, our daily dishes, and croque-monsieurs,” Ms Valladas said. She added that there has been “incredible enthusiasm” for the system among her customers.

She said: “People find it practical. It’s convenient, but people also know that they are going to be eating something healthy. It brings in new clients that we wouldn’t normally have had before, such as older people who don’t always want to cook…

“But not only them. We are seeing people from all walks of life, doctors, workers who are off to work…we were surprised to see that someone bought one at 4am!”

It comes as 85% of restaurateurs in France said that they had seen a drop in activity over the course of the health crisis, in a poll conducted on 4-5 January.

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