To hype the March 6 premiere of its newest reality series, NBC Universal built a food-dispensing pop-up inside Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall that was open last Thursday and Friday. The stunt for America’s Next Great Restaurant was produced by Civic Entertainment Group and served some 8,000 commuters and visitors to the transit hub bites inspired by the competition show's restaurant concepts via an automat-style structure.
The modern, makeshift vending machine constructed by Production Glue and built from medium-density fiberboard with a vinyl finish comprised 30 cubbyholes, each filled with branded placements and lit with LED strips. Danny Meyer's catering operation Union Square Events supplied the tasty treats placed in the compartments, which included mac and cheese, fried chicken sliders, and meatballs. Appearances from America's Next Great Restaurant's judges, chefs Bobby Flay and Curtis Stone, helped draw more attention to the publicity ploy, which offered the edibles between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. And to give the effort a charitable component, NBC made a contribution to City Harvest for every bite served.