The first vending machine started in Egypt, dispensing holy water to patrons of a temple. The concept later became England’s popular way of selling cigarettes and snuff.
Today, vending machines are everywhere, selling a variety of goods. From soda and snacks and candy to cannabis and even makeup by Kylie Kardashian, the time for quicker and contact-free is now.
So what if you could get a hot, Italian-style pizza from one of these convenient machines, in just about 3 minutes? It’s happening right here in Denver, right now. And we’re among the first cities in the nation to have one.
In 2016, Deglin Kenealy, CEO of Basil Street Pizza, began the process of creating an automated pizza kitchen (APK) in California, with consistency and high-quality pies in mind. It wasn’t until his daughter went off to college that the business became personal.
“I saw this as a huge market. Where you can get a higher quality product, a better price in a much faster time frame, right?,” Kenealy said.
The company just earned a National Sanitation Foundation certification, permitting APKs in more locations nationwide, including university campuses, airports and other public spaces, Kenealy said.
“I believe we are the only company ever to receive NSF and UL certification in having a from-frozen to fully cooked, (in a) completely, you know, unmanned operation,” he said.
Although Kenealy foresees Basil Street Pizza on college campuses in the future, there is no current plan for an APK at CU-Boulder or other Front Range colleges. But he’s hopeful. (“Swipe your student ID so mom and dad are still paying for it,” he said.)
Basil Street Pizza’s automated kitchen in Denver is one of 50 cook-to-order pizza vending machines to roll out in the United States this year. (The company tested the machines in California and Texas in 2020.) The APK’s serve 10-inch, thin-crust pizzas, completely microwave-free.
“We’re not trying to stop you from going to your favorite pizza place,” Kenealy said, “but if you want, really, a delicious pizza in a short amount of time, we feel like we’ve really hit the nail on the head with that.”
With its many rotating flavors to choose from — including the classics such as cheese, pepperoni and supreme — these futuristic vending machines are redefining take-out, the company asserts. Basil Street Pizza’s patented oven technology turns frozen pies to hot and fresh out the oven, and the first and only person to touch it is you.
Basil Street pizzas are made with locally sourced ingredients such as a four-cheese blend of mozzarella, parmesan, asiago and romano; vine-ripened tomatoes; and extra virgin olive oil. Each order comes with a box designed to be quickly folded and then carried away, along with a plastic pizza cutter wheel.
(I came away wishing an APK was around during my days as an undergrad. A bite of Basil Street’s buffalo chicken pizza was like meeting the pizza I wish had existed then; I’d have chosen it over a frozen DiGiorno or Little Caesar’s for sure.)
Pizza prices range from $12 to $15, and can be purchased with a debit or credit card, Apple Pay, Android and Samsung Pay.
APK, inside The Celtic on Market, 1400 Market St., Denver; 303-484-1066. The Celtic is open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. basilstreetpizza.com
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