Hanoi opens first self-service cafe

By Vy An   October 28, 2016 | 05:59 pm PT
There are no signs of staff or even owner in the cafe.

Many Vietnamese visitors to Japan are surprised to find fruit and vegetable stalls where customers leave money in an unmanned till.

Three months ago, this same service came to the Vietnamese capital as a cafe called Mama Fanbox.

Nestled in a small nook at 24 Lieu Giai Street, the automated cafe keeps its fridge stocked with ready-made drinks, ice cream and fresh chocolate.

Due to its small size, most customers opt to print out an invoice, drop money into a locked box and take their purchase on the road.


The cafe's automated payment system. Photo by VnExpress/Vy An

The cafe's owner, Dao Khanh Hiep, says family and friends worried he'd be ruined, but Hiep saw the cafe as an opportunity to resolve their concerns rather than buckle under them.

The IT engineer wrote software that closes the cafe door, automatically, if customers fail to pay. The cafe is also equipped with security cameras that automatically scan and record the faces of new customers.

Hiep says he hasn’t lost anything since opening day. The only disadvantage to his automated system is that it can't give customers change.

Instead, it deducts whatever they're owed from their next bill.


Many messages for the cafe. Photo by VnExpress/Vy An

Hiep says he spent just VND100 million ($4,480) opening Mama Fanbox, which he hopes to bring to other parts of the city.

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