Proud carnivore Joshua Applestone originally founded Applestone Meat Company to help local farmers sell quality beef, pork, lamb and sausages. To keep up with customer demand, he retrofitted refrigerated carousels that typically vend pre-made sandwiches to hold and dispense up to 150 different cuts.
"I have always looked back upon visits to Horn & Hardart with my mom in Manhattan when I was a child," Applestone told Maxim. "To me, it was a magical place where food came out on plates and bowls from a machine."
"At this point it just clicked—the idea of a self serving shopping area. A lot of our customers want to run in, get what they want, and get home. We realized that a 24/7 self serving butcher shop would be a huge convenience to people everywhere."
All products come from locally sourced livestock raised without any added hormones or antibiotics—products for which you'd pay premium prices at a supermarket. Because the overhead on operating unmanned machines is significantly lower than that of a standard butcher shop, Applestone is able to keep prices down.
Ground beef and short ribs sell for $6.99 per pound, while a bone-out New York strip will run buyers $19.99 per pound. The selection rotates frequently, but specialty cuts like flat iron beef steaks, lamb shoulder chops and country style pork ribs may be available on any given day.
"We are a whole animal butcher shop, and that means that we sell all parts of our animals—nothing goes to waste," Applestone says. "It's about balancing popular cuts with lesser known yet equally delicious cuts of meat."
Each unit costs around $30,000 to build. According to Inside Hook, revenue from two 24-hour locations in Stone Ridge and Accord, New York accounts for a whopping 70 percent of Applestone's revenue.
A third store will open in Hudson later this year, followed by a Scarsdale location in 2019. If all goes according to plan, Applestone will eventually open another in New York City.
If he could figure out a way to vend perfectly cooked medium-rare steaks, that would really be something.