The Boston Globe reports that a Boston-based company called Alchemista found an unexpected influx of business this past year, when real estate management companies decided to install their "smart food lockers" in their buildings in hopes of replicating that "shared lunchroom" office vibe for people working remotely.
When Junru Chen gets hungry and doesn't feel like cooking, the 24-year-old no longer turns to take-out. Chen simply walks to the lobby of his apartment building and peers through the window of a temperature-controlled locker that resembles something from an Automat, the slightly futuristic precursor to fast-food restaurants from many decades ago. After scanning a QR code with his phone, he can access the daily menu and then, with a few taps, purchase hot dishes such as wild mushroom risotto or braised short rib lasagna from Coppa, or Spanish hot chicken from Toro, both of them award-winning South End restaurants seven miles from his Brighton apartment.
The workplace shift from office buildings to homes is also leading to other changes at high-end residential buildings throughout the city, as landlords and developers look to incorporate amenities that residents became accustomed to at work. So some high-end apartment building lobbies are starting to feel more like the office break room.
Office perks were designed both to recruit and to retain people. The same rules apply to residential buildings, Percelay said, and it helps that they often target the same demographic: young well-compensated professionals. Adding food offerings in his buildings is about retaining tenants in what has become a brutally competitive rental market.
I can certainly see the appeal here. But I also hate it. Even if they really are just glorified vending machines, which isn't actually all that weird.
Apartment buildings are bringing work perks home by putting food lockers in the lobby [Janelle Nanos / The Boston Globe]
Image: PCHS-NJROTC / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)