Caviar Vending Machine: Automated Indulgence
A Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife team finds a way to vend high-quality caviar at wholesale prices.
Caviar is synonymous with luxury living. You hear about celebrities serving the best caviar at parties, see it on TV reports about the rich and famous and read about how luxury cruise lines serve it to their elite passengers.
Now, thanks to Beverly Hills Caviar, Inc., excellent-quality caviar is available to anyone via its vending machines located throughout Los Angeles. This multi-generation, family-owned business is run by husband-and-wife team Brian Scheiner and Kelly Stern. Both come from long lines of Eastern European “caviar” families. Their business philosophy is simple: make it easy for their clients to buy caviar for a great price that most people can afford.
“Our business includes a local L.A. wholesale business and an online store for our national clientele as well as our international ones,” Scheiner says. “We like to automate things to clear more time for ourselves so we decided that an automated caviar shop would not need much from us, time wise.”
Currently, the three automated machines are located in Westfield Topanga, Westfield Century City and Hollywood and Highland. While an automated machine may seem an unlikely way to buy caviar, Scheiner says that the vending machines have been very successful. The machines attract a wide array of customers, from caviar aficionados to chefs to those who just want to add that special something to their own dinner party menus.
The first-of-its-kind vending machines offer a full selection of caviar and other luxury delectables like Italian truffles, escargot and artisanal salts. Caviar offerings include Imperial River Beluga at $500 an ounce and the much more affordable American Black Caviar for $30 an ounce. The company’s best seller, Classic Osetra Caviar, sells for around $50 an ounce. There’s even a unique dried mullet caviar.
“Whether they go online or step up to purchase on the machines, our automation and efficiency allows our client to purchase fresh caviar for wholesale prices,” Scheiner says.
“The machine has a touch-screen interface that allows our clients to pick their item and pay for it with cash,” Scheiner explains. “The machine offers a client an email receipt, a transaction number in case they need to contact us, as well as a straightforward sales approach that doesn’t waste their time.”
Customers touch the screen to view the menu, pick the category of caviar that they would like to consider and, finally, choose the size serving that suits them. Upon checkout they can insert their cash and enter their email address in order to receive a receipt. The caviar packaging is specially designed as an insulated box so it stays cool after purchase for up to three hours.
Each vending machine is custom made using technology that houses the caviar best, so things like temperature, moisture, ventilation, lighting and oxygen levels are perfectly regulated. Currently, these cash-only vending machines contain inventory of approximately $50,000.
“We took regular machines and stripped them to the bones. Then we started adding the proper cooling system and double door to prevent the cold air from leaking when the vending occurs,” Scheiner says. “Then we added the computers, temperature system, Wi-Fi system, payment systems and the customer interface within a new structure that packages the whole thing together into one piece.”
The company has strict parameters when choosing locations for new vending machines, with a laundry list of factors that include an affluent area populated with potential clients, a safe environment for the equipment and 24/7 availability.
“Right now, we are pretty happy with the three locations that we have and worked very hard to establish them,” Scheiner says. “We were thinking about franchising the machines to allow other individuals to own an easy-to-manage caviar business. Clearly, we didn’t have the time to start the process but possibly in the future we could be open to it.”
In addition to adding something special for a meal, Scheiner says caviar makes a great gift. “Our machines provide clients with ultimate convenience in buying caviar when they really need it,” he says. “It’s something unique that can make any day special.”