Mothers of the Automat

By Kim, COO of Horn & Hardart

It is 3 am. I am sitting in a rocking chair with my 10-month-old who is up sick with a fever. As a mom and the COO of Horn & Hardart, my mind swirls with thoughts—of motherhood and the workday ahead.

Reviving Horn & Hardart and parenting have a lot in common.

Rebuilding a beloved company, steeped in values of quality and care, fills me with so much pride. Yet, there are also days when the weight of starting a business feels impossibly challenging.

And then, I remember what I have learned as a mother. That raising my boys is the adventure of a lifetime and a source of boundless joy. Still, there are plenty of incredibly exhausting days.

Just like motherhood, restoring Horn & Hardart is an opportunity of a lifetime. To be a caretaker of this brand and raise it back up is such an exciting, fulfilling thing.

Horn & Hardart has been a place where mothers found a stable income and a job. Automats were always places where mothers and grandmothers knew they could fill hungry bellies and share a magical experience with their grandchildren and children.

“Some of my absolute fondest memories are going with my Mother and Grandmother to the Horn and Hardart in Center City Philadelphia. My mother would give me change to use the Automat for myself and my little brother. My mother and grandmother would get coffee and their own treat and we would sit by the window and enjoy an afternoon with family.” - Annemarie

“I was about ten years old and needed braces. The orthodontist was in the City. After being tortured in these appointments, my mother would take me to H&H for lunch. I think this was the first place I had been in that was so ornate and beautiful. I was fascinated with the uniqueness of its style and concept - put money in a slot and food is presented on revolving shelves. My go-to meal was always Mac & Cheese, Creamed Spinach & Croquettes!” - Arlene

“My Italian grandmother from South Philadelphia would take me and my brother to the Horn and Hardart's in the city. I would love to open the door to the tapioca pudding!” - Gail

“In the mid-50s, when I was seven years old, I went shopping with my mother in the city. My memory was at the H & H on 42nd and Third Ave. It was such a thrill because my mother would let me get a cup of coffee for her.” - Les

So on this Mother’s Day, I reflect with gratitude on the countless mothers whose stories are interwoven with the fabric of Horn & Hardart. Their stories inspire me and propel me forward in this mission to breathe new life into Horn & Hardart.

But first, let me have another cup of Automat Coffee.

COO, Horn & Hardart