Need some headphones or rice crackers or a condom while you're hanging out at the new H Street food and retail emporium Maketto? There's a vending machine for that.
The machine was custom outfitted by Guerilla Vending, started by Toki Underground sous chef Mike Galyen along with Maketto Beverage Director Colin Sulgalski and two engineering friends, Alex Hastings and Mike Auger. It's the first of many specialty vending machines you'll start seeing popping up at local bars and restaurants.
"Just watching movies set in Tokyo and stuff like that, I always thought that was a super cool idea," Galyen says. "And I've always wondered why nobody did it here. You just don't see that kind of culture here."
Next up: a refrigerated banh mi and beef jerky vending machine for the Pug. Galyen will make the food himself upstairs at Toki Underground. He's been experimenting with a Szechuan chicken banh mi as well as a Vietnamese-style pork loaf. The machine will also stock some snacks like wasabi peas. It should be up and running by next Friday.
The Maketto machine was initially going to be stocked solely with Kidrobot and other designer vinyl toys. "We branched out and thought about what are people going to need on-the-go or while they're at the bar? Or what are the employees of Maketto going to need?" In addition to little toys and lucky cats, the machine now also contains iPhone chargers, Hello Kitty strawberry pocky, hot tamarind candy, teriyaki nori, Advil, Band-Aids, single-use tooth brushes, and more. The items range from $1 to $10.
Galyen and his team source the hardware from different places, including a vendor in Rockville that refurbishes snack machines. The one for the Pug was shipped from California. Guerilla Vending then modifies the machines to fit their products. Local artist Kelly Towles is working on graphics to decorate the boxes. All the machines take credit cards plus $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills.
Guerilla Vending is just getting started. Galyen says you'll be seeing his machines pop-up at local establishments throughout the summer and fall. "It's something that I'd very much like to grow into a full-time, legitimate business," he says.
Photo by Jessica Sidman