A fast food guarantees that your meal is cooked rapidly, but what about delivery ? Couldn’t it be faster as well ? C1 Espresso, in Christchurch, is trying it, by propelling burgers through pneumatic tubes.
If you come to C1 Espresso just for a beer and don’t look up, you could totally miss it. The restaurant’s pneumatic delivery system is huge, but also discrete. On the bar, you can find a funny white and blue menu, soberly called “Pneumatic”. The drawing on it recalls of old times.
Inside, you pick three mini-burgers, stuffed with everything from beef, to salmon or courgette fritter. Then, it gets only weirder. The waiter places your order in a small green capsule, which is automatically hoovered up a transparent plastic tube. In seconds, it disappears somewhere up the wall. A few minutes later, your order comes back by the same mean, in a metallic cylinder labelled with your name. When it does, a device makes a loud noise, a bit like the bell on bicycles, or iPhones.
Order three burgers to try pneumatic delivery © C1 Espresso
The whole installation has required a lot of engineering. Pneumatic delivery did exist before. For instance, it was used for a while in big malls, to address money or mail between floors and staff members. But adapting the system to a restaurant was a whole different story. Cafe owners had to design the proper container, that wouldn’t damage food during the process. And pneumatic tube transport was never that fast neither : 140 kilometers-per-hour for C1 Espresso burgers and fries !
Good news, it’s still a work-in-progress and could be extended, I have been told last September :
If you are on a tour in the reinventing Christchurch, C1 Espresso is definitely worth a visit (it’s apparently stop number one in the city for some geek tourists), just to experiment this unrivaled, and very entertaining, record.