China's first unstaffed train station restaurant opened on Monday in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province where the smart eatery will be tested by China's Spring Festival travel rush that began the same day and will last until March.
With no waiters or cooks, the restaurant installed eight vending machines, each with a touch screen where customers can order a meal and pay with their mobile phone app, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.
When a purchase is made, semi-cooked food is heated in the machine and is ready in no more than 26 seconds, the Science and Technology Daily reported.
The restaurant serves travelers 24/7 with a dozen of entrees, sides and drinks. Protein choices vary from spicy beef, braised pork to curry chicken. People can choose white rice, fried rice, noodles or salads to accompany the main dish.
The eight machines can store more than 2,000 meals and employees from a food supply company refill it when necessary, manager of the restaurant Yang Jimei told Xinhua. Each meal is traceable, Yang said.
The restaurant's service will be tested by the travel rush from Monday to March 1. An estimated 413 million trips will be made via China's railway system during this period, up 8.3 percent year-on-year, according to Xinhua.
Qingdao opened an unmanned supermarket in a train station in 2017.