New Jersey accountants are advising clients to move out of the state to escape its high taxes and living costs

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019.

  • NJ accountants are advising clients to leave the state over high living costs, a survey shows.
  • The NJ Society of Certified Public Accountants said businesses were also concerned about high taxes.
  • People have fled high-tax states like New York, New Jersey, and California during the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Accountants in New Jersey are advising clients to leave the state because of its high living costs and corporate and property tax rates.

Seventy per cent of certified public accountants (CPAs) have advised individual clients to leave the state because of the high cost of living, according to a survey by the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPA).

And 53% of respondents said they had advised New Jersey-based business clients to consider relocation because of the state’s higher cost of doing business.

Read more: I’m a millionaire. Biden’s plan to raise my taxes is a great idea.

New Jersey’s high property-tax and corporate-tax rates, lack of available skilled personnel, and regulatory requirements were top concerns for businesses, the CPAs said.

“The tax structure here is one of the highest in the country, if not the highest, and that certainly is a negative issue for individuals and for businesses,” NJCPA’s CEO, Ralph Thomas, told CNBC, who first reported on the survey.

New Jersey has the highest top corporate-tax rate at 10.5%, the highest average property-tax rate, and the worst business tax climate in the US, according to the Tax Foundation.

And New Jersey residents spend on average 12.2% of their income on state and local taxes, the Foundation said – the third-highest in the US.

Thomas told CNBC that many of the people and businesses leaving New Jersey were choosing states with lower taxes and living costs, including Delaware, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

“Tax hell” in New York and New Jersey has triggered mass migration to Florida, according to the Sunshine state’s CFO, who called the two Northeast states “financial train wrecks.”

But people fleeing high-tax states like New York, New Jersey, and California during the pandemic need to watch out for other surprise taxes, a tax advisor told Insider.

In the New Jersey survey, the CPAs were more optimistic about the national economic recovery from the pandemic than New Jersey’s.

Thirty-six per cent of CPAs said they thought the state’s economy would get worse for the rest of 2021 compared with the first five months, while 30% thought the national economy would get worse. And 35% said they thought New Jersey’s economic condition would improve, compared to 43% for the country.

The CPAs said state legislature should avoid excessive regulations and invest in infrastructure to retain businesses.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A 5th-grade student gave a first-person speech dressed as Hitler. The teacher and school’s principal are now on administrative leave.

Adolf Hitler, left. Maugham Elementary School, right.
A student at Maugham Elementary School dressed as Adolf Hitler for a school project.

  • A fifth-grade student dressed as Adolf Hitler and gave a speech titled, “Accomplishments.”
  • The speech was part of a “Character Development project” organized by his teacher, Fox News said.
  • The school’s principal and the student’s teacher have been placed on administrative leave.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two staff members have been placed on administrative leave after a fifth-grade student at a New Jersey elementary school gave a first-person speech as Adolf Hitler to his class, according to a statement by Tenafly Public Schools Superintendent Shauna C. DeMarco.

The student at Maugham Elementary School dressed as the Nazi dictator while reading out his handwritten report that was titled, “Accomplishments,” Fox News reported.”My greatest accomplishment was uniting a great mass of German and Austrian people behind me,” the student wrote, according to the media outlet.

“I was pretty great, wasn’t I?” the report continued. “I was very popular, and many people followed me until I died. My belif [sic] in antisemitism drove me to kill more than 6 million Jews.”

The speech, part of a “Character Development project” organized by their teacher, who is Jewish, was displayed in the school’s hallways. It was later shared on Facebook by Lori Birk, an Englewood resident, but has since been deleted.

Read more: How ‘Tiger Mom’ Amy Chua became the pariah of Yale Law. A complicated story of booze, misbehaving men, and the Supreme Court.

DeMarco confirmed in a statement on Thursday that an investigation is underway as the project violated the district’s curriculum and that the teacher and principal of the school have been placed on administrative leave.

“They will remain on leave pending the conclusion of my investigation, recommendations to the Board, and the Board’s further action,” DeMarco said. “I also have recommended that the Board appoint an acting principal and replacement teacher at Maugham immediately.”

The superintendent added that the incident has been stressful for many people. “This has had a devastating impact on the student involved and their family, who have been thrown into turmoil through no fault of their own. It has also been incredibly painful for our Jewish community members in the face of increasing instances of antisemitism around the country.”

DeMarco referred to the incident as a “failure” in the statement. “The events that have unfolded represent a failure in both providing the safe learning environment that all our kids need to learn and grow, as well as a failure in the school’s initial handling,’ she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

900 people a day are moving to Florida, many fleeing ‘tax hell’ in New York and New Jersey, the state’s CFO said

Florida and its governor Ron DeSantis
Florida’s population grew by 2.7 million over the last decade, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has heavily promoted the state as pro-business.

  • Around 900 people a day are moving to Florida, Jimmy Patronis, the state’s CFO, told Fox Business.
  • This is partly because of high taxes in states such as New York and New Jersey, he said.
  • He described those two states as “financial train wrecks.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Around 900 people a day are moving to Florida, mainly because of high taxes in other states such as New York and New Jersey, Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis told Fox Business on Monday.

Migration to Florida had steadily risen over the past decade, before booming during the pandemic as remote working and the warm climate drew people to the Sunshine State.

Florida also has no personal-income tax. In comparison, New York unveiled proposals in April to bump up its income-tax rates for its wealthiest residents.

Patronis told Fox that states like New York and New Jersey were “financial train wrecks.”

Read more: IBM is hunting for a smaller NYC office now that 80% of its employees won’t come in every day. It’s a sign of the times.

“Let’s just talk about the empty nesters from New York, or the empty nesters from New Jersey,” Patronis said. “They then decide to leave the tax hell that those states are in and move to the state of Florida.”

He said that these people bring money into the state without increasing pressure on the school system.

“It provides more money to our schools, though they’re not using the services,” Patronis said.

“It’s a win-win,” he added.

Both people and businesses flocked to Florida during the pandemic

Florida’s population grew by 2.7 million, or 14.6%, between 2010 and 2020, according to US Census data. This is double the rate of overall US population growth.

As Patronis said, Florida is traditionally associated with retirees, but Troy McLellan, CEO of the Boca Raton Chamber, previously told Insider in May that more and more families and young high-flyers are moving to the area.

Florida has also remained largely open during the pandemic, relative to other states. This led to people choosing to make Florida their primary residence for the pandemic, Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the Business Development Board (BDB) of Palm Beach County, told Insider.

Companies have been opening offices in the state, too. Hedge fund Elliott Management is moving its headquarters to West Palm Beach, private-equity firm Blackstone plans to open an office in Miami, and Subway is shifting some business units to Miami.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie confirms he’s mulling a 2024 presidential bid and won’t ‘defer’ to Trump

christie
Chris Christie.

  • Chris Christie confirmed on the “Ruthless” podcast that he’s weighing a 2024 presidential run.
  • The former New Jersey governor said he doesn’t plan to “defer” to Trump when making a decision.
  • Axios first reported in late April that Christie was considering a 2024 bid.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie confirmed this week that he’s toying with the idea of running for president in the 2024 Republican primary, adding that his decision will not depend on former President Donald Trump’s next move.

“I’m also not going to be one of these people who’s going to say, ‘Well, I’ll wait to see what President Trump’s going to do.’ I’m not going to defer to anyone if I decide that’s what I want to do and that I think I’m the best option for the party and for the country,” Christie told the “Ruthless” podcast in an interview that aired on Monday. “I think if you say you’re deferring to someone, that’s a sign of both weakness and indecision, and we’ve already got that in the White House.”

Christie’s comments could be seen as a dig at Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and US Ambassador to the UN, who said she won’t run for president if Trump does and will “have to talk to him about it.”

The former federal prosecutor said he plans to wait until after the 2022 midterms to make a final call.

“For me, what I want to do is to try to lead the party in a productive and smart way, for us to continue to argue for populist-type policies but not to be reckless with our policies, not to be reckless with our language,” Christie said on the podcast, noting that some of the “recklessness of the past four years” has cost the GOP suburban voters.

Axios first reported in late April that Christie was considering a 2024 bid for the Republican nomination.

Despite his admittedly complicated with Trump, Christie told Fox News in early May that he would give the Trump presidency as a whole an A grade.

“The fact of the matter is that there were some things that happened specifically at the end of the presidency that I think had some things that clouded his accomplishments, and that’s why we as a party need to emphasize the issues you just talked about,” Christie told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Christie sat out the 2012 presidential primary and unsuccessfully ran in the crowded 2016 GOP primary field, losing to Trump, who edged out Christie as the tri-state area candidate with a tough-as-nails reputation.

Read more: Donald Trump donated his federal salary, but he’s taken $65,600 in pension payments since January 20

Sources close to Christie told Axios that the former governor believes he could carve out a unique lane as the sole candidate who has both held statewide executive office and previously run for president, an edge he thinks he could hold over rising star Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

DeSantis, who ran for governor in 2018 as an explicitly pro-Trump candidate, has attracted a flurry of positive news coverage for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and is generating buzz among GOP donors, who reportedly see him as a “nicer” version of Trump.

Trump told Fox News in April that he is “very seriously” considering another presidential bid in 2024. But, if he decides against that, other possible frontrunners besides DeSantis and Haley include former Vice President Mike Pence, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rick Scott, and Tom Cotton, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Still, the makeup of the GOP base has seen a marked change since Christie was in office. There are now fewer white, college-educated, suburban voters who elected Christie to the governorship in New Jersey. In their place are more non-college-educated voters and, in 2020, more Latino voters. So Christie could struggle to gain traction in a primary field dominated by Trump loyalists.

During Trump’s presidency, Christie served as an on-air contributor at ABC News, and was most critical of Trumpworld towards the end of the Trump administration.

Christie tested positive for COVID-19 after assisting the Trump campaign with debate prep in fall 2020. His bout with the disease landed him in the hospital and led him to openly plead with Americans to take the pandemic seriously and wear masks, at odds with the Trump White House’s consistent downplaying of the pandemic.

The former governor also spoke out against the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the courts, calling a last-ditch lawsuit in the Supreme Court seeking to overturn four states’ election results “an absurdity” and Trump’s legal team “a national embarrassment.”

This story has been updated.

Read the original article on Business Insider

New Jersey is the only state sticking to indoor mask mandates for fully vaccinated people following the CDC’s more relaxed guidelines. ‘We’re not ready yet,’ its governor said.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

  • The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need a mask in most places.
  • Every state other than New Jersey has relaxed its indoor mask guidance, or said it soon would.
  • Gov. Phil Murphy said that the state needed “a couple more weeks” to ensure new rules were safe.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New Jersey is the only state with no plans to update its indoor mask mandate to align with new federal guidance on fully vaccinated people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need a mask in most indoor and outdoor settings. The majority of states with mask-wearing mandates lifted restrictions immediately, while others, including New York, gave a date for more relaxed rules.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNN on Monday: “We’re not necessarily against it. We’re not ready yet.”

Murphy said that New Jersey needed “a couple more weeks” to ensure that it was safe to update its indoor mask mandate.

“If we could save one more life by waiting a couple of weeks longer. I’ll sign up for that,” Murphy said.

Murphy also suggested it was unfair to ask retail workers to judge whether people were fully vaccinated or not.

He did, however, announce that the state was lifting its outdoor mask mandate for everybody. He also said people didn’t need to isolate on return to New Jersey after travel, and that schools would restart in-person teaching in the fall.

In the past week, New Jersey has recorded more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases, down from a peak of more than 42,000 in January. In the same period, 165 people died from COVID-19 in the state, down from a weekly peak of more than 2,400 in December, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Murphy said that the virus was more lethal indoors, and that the mask requirement inside had been “hugely helpful”.

“Twice before we thought we had this thing [coronavirus] on the run and it came back and clobbered us again,” he said.

The majority of people in New Jersey aren’t fully vaccinated. Murphy said that this was another factor in his decision-making. About 40% of people in the state are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University. “We gotta bring the vaccine to the people,” Murphy said.

Read more: How coronavirus variants called ‘escape mutants’ threaten to undo all our progress

State Sen. Michael Testa, a Republican, said it was “unbelievable” that Murphy was doubling down on the mask mandate.

“Instead of following the science here in New Jersey, we have a governor who continues to restrict personal freedoms to cater to the irrational fears of a timid liberal constituency,” he said.

Others supported Murphy’s decision.

Marc Perrone, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said Sunday that while vaccinations were helping us slow the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic was far from over.

“We cannot let our guard down,” Perrone said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

CEO of $100 million New Jersey deli has reportedly been fired

Your Hometown Deli
  • Hometown International has fired its CEO.
  • The CEO is also the principal and wrestling coach at the local high school.
  • The firing comes after questions about his role at the company.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The CEO of a company that runs a single business, a New Jersey deli with a market cap of over $100 million, has been fired, per a financial filing, CNBC reports. The news that Hometown International fired its CEO Paul Morina comes after questions arose about his role at the company, though no official reason was given as to why he was fired.

Morina is the principal and head wrestling coach at the local high school. Last month, CNBC reported on financial records which listed Morina as president, CEO, and CFO of Hometown International, which owns one small deli in Paulsboro, New Jersey.

That deli booked only $36,000 in sales these past two years, and recorded $624,438 in losses last year, in addition to $153,930 in losses the year prior. Yet, Hometown International has a market capitalization of over $100 million.

Business Insider previously called the company a shell company that seeks to execute a merger one day with a larger company.

Filings show Morina owns 1.5 million common shares in the company, in addition to warrants for another $30 million. He also controls 19% of the company’s outstanding 7.79 million common shares, with at least 5.5 million common shares controlled by investors in Hong Kong and Macao. CNBC reports Morina’s common stock holdings are worth at least $18 million on paper.

Shareholders for the company also voted to remove the company’s vice president, Christine Lindenmuth, who works with Morina at the local high school, CNBC reported. Filings do not disclose why she was fired either, though she and Morina remain principles at the deli itself.

The deli received ample attention last month after hedge fund manager David Einhorn pointed out Hometown International’s high market value, despite owning one asset to clients in a letter last month to warn investors of risks. “The pastrami must be amazing,” he wrote. “Small investors who get sucked into these situations are likely to be harmed eventually.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is considering a run for president in 2024, report says

christie
Chris Christie.

  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is weighing a 2024 presidential bid, Axios reports.
  • Christie unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016, losing to former President Donald Trump.
  • In 2024, Christie could face a tough road to victory in a field filled with Trump loyalists.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is considering a run for president in the 2024 Republican primary, Axios reported on Wednesday.

Christie sat out the 2012 presidential primary and unsuccessfully ran in the crowded 2016 GOP primary field, losing to former President Donald Trump, who edged out Christie as the tri-state area candidate with a tough-as-nails reputation.

Read more: Donald Trump is ditching the spray tan, M&M’s, and even some extra pounds at home in Florida. Insiders say losing 20 pounds might convince him to run for president again.

Sources close to Christie told Axios that the former governor and federal prosecutor believes he could carve out a unique lane as the sole candidate who has both held statewide executive office and previously run for president, an edge he thinks he could hold over rising star Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

DeSantis, who ran for governor in 2018 as an explicitly pro-Trump candidate, has attracted a flurry of positive news coverage for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and is generating buzz among GOP donors, who reportedly see him as a “nicer” version of Trump.

Trump told Fox News on Monday that he is “very seriously” considering another presidential bid in 2024. But, if he decides against that, other possible frontrunners besides DeSantis include former Vice President Mike Pence, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rick Scott, and Tom Cotton, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former US Ambassador to the UN and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Still, the makeup of the GOP base has seen a marked change since Christie was in office. There are now fewer white, college-educated, suburban voters who elected Christie to the governorship in New Jersey. In their place are more non-college educated voters and, in 2020, more Latino voters. So Christie could struggle to gain traction in a primary field dominated by Trump loyalists.

During Trump’s presidency, Christie served as an on-air contributor at ABC News, and was most critical of Trumpworld towards the end of the Trump administration.

Christie tested positive for COVID-19 after assisting the Trump campaign with debate prep in fall 2020. His bout with the disease landed him in the hospital and led him to openly plead with Americans to take the pandemic seriously and wear masks, at odds with the Trump White House’s consistent downplaying of the pandemic.

The former governor also spoke out against the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the courts, calling a last-ditch lawsuit in the Supreme Court seeking to overturn four states’ election results “an absurdity” and Trump’s legal team “a national embarrassment.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

New Jersey tried luring Netflix, Disney, and other Hollywood studios after Georgia passed its controversial voting law

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy sent a letter to Hollywood studios like Netflix and Disney on Thursday.
  • Murphy wanted to lure studios to the state after backlash to Georgia’s new voting law.
  • Some media companies like ViacomCBS and AT&T have issued statements opposing the controversial bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New Jersey wants to be in business with Hollywood.

The state’s governor, Phil Murphy, sent a letter to major Hollywood studios like Disney, Warner Bros., and Netflix on Thursday in an attempt to lure business away from Georgia after it passed a controversial voting law, according to several outlets that obtained the letter, including The Wall Street Journal and The Hollywood Reporter.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the sweeping elections bill into law on March 25, which has been met with backlash from Democrats and civil-rights groups who say it targets Black communities. Among the most controversial aspects of the bill are changes to absentee voting and banning volunteers from delivering food, water, and other items to people waiting in long voting lines.

Murphy wrote that “restricting the right to vote is more than just wrong, it’s un-American” and that the “vast majority” see the law as “an attack on people of color by a Governor and Legislature willing to do anything to stay in power.”

Georgia offers attractive tax incentives that have made it a major Hollywood production hub. Murphy emphasized New Jersey’s 30% tax credit on film projects and a 40% subsidy for any brick-and-mortar studio development, according to THR.

“Our new $14.5 billion economic incentive package makes the Garden State just as competitive as Georgia to attract film and television production businesses,” Murphy wrote. “One thing is clear: when it comes to social policies, corporate responsibility, and – not to be overlooked – economic opportunity, New Jersey is now a top contender for your business.”

Some media companies have issued statements condemning the Georgia law, but have not called for a boycott of the state.

ViacomCBS, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, was the first major media company to speak out: “We unequivocally believe in the importance of all Americans having an equal right to vote and oppose the recent Georgia voting rights law or any effort that impedes the ability to exercise this vital constitutional right.”

Comcast, NBCUniversal’s corporate parent, and AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, Warner Bros., and Atlanta-based CNN, followed with their own statements.

Comcast said: “Voting is fundamental to our democracy. We believe that all Americans should enjoy equitable access to secure elections and we have long supported and promoted voter education, registration and participation campaigns across the country to achieve that goal. Efforts to limit or impede access to this vital constitutional right for any citizen are not consistent with our values.”

AT&T’s CEO John Stankey said in part: “We believe the right to vote is sacred and we support voting laws that make it easier for more Americans to vote in free, fair and secure elections. We understand that election laws are complicated, not our company’s expertise and ultimately the responsibility of elected officials. But, as a company, we have a responsibility to engage.”

Disney and Netflix have not released statements regarding the Georgia voting law.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Take a look inside Automat Kitchen, a New Jersey restaurant that only serves food using lockers

Automat Kitchen int 1GTL Construction
The restaurant serves diners using 20 lockers.

  • Automat Kitchen in Jersey City, New Jersey, is trying to revive the automat.
  • Its restaurant has no waiting staff and it instead serves all its food through heated lockers.
  • You can order in advance online, or on-site by scanning a QR code.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It looks futuristic – but it’s actually based on a restaurant phenomenon that boomed during the 1950s before dying out in the US.

New Jersey restaurant Automat Kitchen is trying to revive the automat with modern technology and high-quality food. And in the midst of a pandemic, when diners are urged to avoid unnecessary contact, the timing could hardly be better.

Automats are like self-service vending machines where customers insert coins or use their card to buy hot food. They have a notable presence in countries including Spain, the Netherlands, and Japan, but Horn and Hardart, which dominated the US automat industry, closed the doors of its last New York City site in 1991.

Horn & Hardart's
A Horn & Hardart’s Restaurant at 42nd Street and Third Avenue, New York City, early November 1965. Because of a blackout that hit most of the northeast, crowds jammed the restaurants and ate up almost everything in sight.

The pandemic may give the machines another lease of life.

Automat Kitchen adds a modern twist

While automats typically sell pre-made food, Automat Kitchen, which opened in Jersey City earlier this year, makes all its food to order. Chefs in the kitchen then place the meals in one of the restaurant’s 20 lockers by opening them from the back.

Customers can order in advance via Automat Kitchen’s website or on its app. They can also order on-site by scanning a QR code.

Automat Kitchen order screen w names 2
You can order in advance or on-site.

They are then texted a code when their order is ready, which they enter into the locker to open it. Alternatively, customers can also reply to the text message with the word “open” to open the locker – making it an entirely touch-free experience.

Screens above the lockers show the order status, and when it’s ready the locker lights up.

Automat Kitchen display screen w names 1(1)
The screen above the lockers tell you whether your order is ready.

Customers get their receipt automatically emailed to them after the transaction. Customers can also choose to pay by cash, but most use their phones to get the full experience.

Automat Kitchen has patents that cover any computer-controlled, food locker technology which permits a customer to open a food locker by using a device such as a cell phone to retrieve their food, without ever needing to touch the “locker.” Those patents cover the technology which is now being adopted by several food delivery system manufacturers, it told Insider.

Automat Kitchen rear of cubby wall
Chefs make the meals to order and place them in the lockers from the kitchen.

The restaurant also offers delivery via DoorDash. Though delivery drivers do not currently collect the orders from lockers, the restaurants’ owners say they’re working with DoorDash to integrate orders into the locker system.

Automat Kitchen’s principal owner, Joe Scutellaro, has been working on the restaurant for over a decade, well before the pandemic revived momentum for contactless collection.

Automat Kitchen seating by GTL Construction
Both the restaurant’s interior and menu include tributes to the automat phenomenon of the 1950s.

Scutellaro said he has fond memories of visiting the New York City automats as a child in the 1960s, and wanted to recreate this with an updated look, experience, and menu.

The restaurant’s menu has hot and cold beverages, salads, and sandwiches, alongside more substantial meals.

Automat Kitchen_s menu items by Lily Brown MST Creative PR
The menu includes a range of hot and cold dishes.

It features what it bills as “creative global twists on American classics,” including a massaman curry pot roast, frito pie burrito, and cinnamon beignets.

It also serves a $15 chicken dinner, which includes half a rotisserie chicken, as well as a chicken pot pie, which it calls “an automat classic remade.”

Automat Kitchen_s Chicken Dinner by Lily Brown MST Creative PR
You can even get half a rotisserie chicken from the lockers, served with black beans, brown rice, and spicy sofrito sauce.

Automats boomed, then dived, in the US

The world’s first automat was opened in Berlin in 1895. Horn and Hardart opened the US’ first automat in Philadelphia 1902 and went on to dominate the industry in the US: By the 1950s, the company operated almost 50 automats in Philadelphia and more than 100 in New York. Automats were particularly popular among white-collar workers because of their speed.

A Horn & Hardart automat 1980
A Horn & Hardart automat selling sandwiches in New York City, January 1980.

The popularity of automats has since dwindled in the US, and Horn and Hardart’s last NYC site closed in 1991. As software and hardware progressed, San Francisco chain Eatsa developed a chain of more high-tech alternatives, but it closed its doors in July 2019, too.

The pandemic, however, is giving automats a new lease of life. Some companies are trying to innovate beyond the traditional automat models, and “the time certainly seems right,” according to Tim Sanford, editor of trade publication Vending Times.

Alongside Automat Kitchen, the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop is rolling out new-look automats, too. Its 24-hour locations, set to open in the spring, will let customers control their orders using their phone. The sites will range in size from 500 square feet to 1,000 square feet, and the lockers light up in blue for chilled items, and red for hot to-go orders.

Brooklyn Dumpling Shop with modernized automat lockers
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop is reviving the automat in New York City.

Front- and back-of-house automation mean the restaurants could roughly halve their labor costs, developer Stratis Morfogen told Insider’s Nancy Luna. The company plans to open a site at the Oculus at the World Trade Center with mega-mall developer Westfield, Morfogen said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A ‘wormnado’ appeared on a New Jersey sidewalk and scientists are divided over what caused it

wormnado
Worms form a tornado-like shape on a sidewalk in Hoboken, New Jersey.

  • A spiral of worms was found on a sidewalk in Hoboken, New Jersey.
  • Locals are now referring to the phenomenon as a “wormnado” or “worm tornado.”
  • Scientists are puzzled by the formation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A New Jersey resident stumbled upon a bizarre formation of worms while taking a morning walk last Thursday, LiveScience first reported.

Hundreds of worms formed a tornado-like shape on the surface of a sidewalk in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Tiffanie Fisher, a local councilperson, shared the images to her social media.

“This is something I’ve never seen,” she wrote on both her Facebook and Twitter.

Read more: Here are 10 companies hoping to cash in on the boom in edible worms and crickets

The images of what is now being called a “wormnado,” or worm tornado, horrified locals.

“Looks like a portal out of a horror movie,” one commented on Facebook.

“Clearly a sign of the end of days,” wrote another.

Others expressed curiosity over what might have caused the intriguing formation.

Kevin Butt, a soil ecology expert at the University of Central Lancashire, said that he believes it can be attributed to a combination of heavy rain and the sidewalks being a hard surface.

“In short, worms have likely come to the soil surface due to excess rainwater, have been unable to burrow down due to movement on to a hard surface and the shape seen may well be a function of the water draining away, rather than specific behavior of the earthworms,” Butt told Insider.

Kyungsoo Yoo, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, agrees that it is possible that worms might have come to the surface due to rainfall.

Yoo also suggested that vibrations, potentially from moles burrowing, could have caused the creatures’ emergence.

The tornado shape, however, is mysterious to him.

“I have never seen this behavior,” Yoo wrote in an email. “This tornado shape is really interesting.”

Rhonda Sherman, the director of the Compost Learning Lab at North Carolina State University, said that she doesn’t believe there is enough information to explain the puzzling formation.

“Earthworms cluster together when there is an environmental threat,” she told Insider. “Looking at the photo of the spiral of worms does not provide enough information about the environmental conditions that could be causing the worms to cluster together.”

A few hours after the worm formation was spotted, it vanished. “The bulk of it was gone – I’m not sure where they went,” the Hoboken resident told LiveScience.

And so, the mystery of the wormnado continues.

Read the original article on Business Insider