Fritz’s, Fast Food With A Robotic Slant

While at Maker Faire K.C. this year, I was sure to take my family to a spot we tend to visit every time we are near: Fritz’s. Fritz’s is a restaurant with an interesting food delivery method. The food itself is your standard faire of burgers and fries, however the railroad theme comes into play when your food is delivered by a model train on a track that runs along the ceiling. Your tray of burgers is deposited safely on a platform that is lowered (hydraulically?) to your table. The whole thing doesn’t look terribly complex, but it is fantastic fun.

We’ve eaten there several times and there is always excitement as each train leaves the kitchen towing some goods. There is also always a sigh of disappointment as it passes each table over on the way to its final destination. The little arm that stops the food on your delivery device doesn’t deploy until the last moment, leaving you guessing each time as to the final destination.

This year was particularly fun because the place was full of robot enthusiasts. I heard conversations all around me discussing the sensor networks, hydraulics, etc. I personally enjoy the theme, though if I were to build one I’d use the same mechanism but go 50’s sci-fi.

27 thoughts on “Fritz’s, Fast Food With A Robotic Slant

    1. All I can think of is “Who cleans the rails?”

      With an accumulation of dust, dead bugs, pollen etc. a train that rattles along the track is going to give the food in the tray a liberal sprinkling of crud every time.

  1. Keeping things simple, perhaps lowered pneumatically? Like a long storm door closer cylinder without the out the spring inside, because the weight of the food activates it? Undoubtedly some orders lower faster than others, if my long distance guess is correct. How slow does make serving “fast food”?

  2. This seems to be an improvement on an old idea. When I was growing up, there was a restaurant, (I believe it was in East Orange, NJ), that delivered food to all people at the counter via a model railroad train.

  3. it would be pretty lame if it werent terrorizingly loud. it might also be entertaining to see if peoples food would actually make it to them. maybe i’m just excited for burgers.

  4. I guess screaming kids wouldn’t be that annoying in that restaurant.

    The big question is why? There’s no need for an electric train to be that freaking noisy.

    At least if it’s going to make noise, it should make, you know, TRAIN NOISES.

    Cool concept, poorly executed.

  5. The original Fritz’s on 18th street in Kansas City is wonderful too. I was kind of surprised they kept the tech almost the same at the new one, but there are differences. For example, the arm lower/raise mechanism is triggered by a light beam on the new ones; it is triggered by weight on a sprung tray and a microswitch on the old ones.

    I remember going there on a field trip with the gifted program in KC to hear about the engineering. Pretty cool…the original owner was definitely a Maker…

  6. It’s been too long since I’ve eaten at our mini chain of pizza Arnies, doing it since the 50’s. One location since the 70’s has a covered and behind the wall room to room drinks only railroad. Each station has a plexi door with a easy to see reed switch that I assume is secure against train robbery. It’s seen not heard.

  7. Good point about keeping that system clean. That would get your restaurant shut down in a hurry if it wasn’t spotless all the time. Mechanical apparatus for the handling of food items is a strictly controlled set of H&S regulations.

  8. I’ve been to the Crown Center restaurant which is an older installation than that shown in the video.

    It’s really not that noisy at all. It does get your attention, but that’s kind of the point. ;)

    It’s been a number of years, but if I remember right, the Crown Center restaurant allows you to make your orders at the table through a console that looked like an old miniature juke box… don’t hold me word to that though, I’ve slept a few nights since then. ;)

  9. i live in kc and the reason its so old-tech and loud is its really old im 29 and i remember getting served by the same train when i was a very young kid i imagine when it came out it was pretty high tech but then again i remember when bagphones were common haha

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