TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A meat vending machine outside of a Florida butcher shop and restaurant is offering fresh cuts, Italian sausage and more meaty snacks 24/7.
Growing up, Andrew Tambuzzo, owner of the Boozy Pig butcher shop and restaurant in Tampa, learned to make Italian sausage from his paternal grandfather, who owned a small grocery store in Ybor City. He would help his mom’s side of the family make sausage when he was out of school on summer break or for Christmas.
“My family has been making Italian sausage for about 100 years in the area,” Tambuzzo said.
Using that knowledge, and what he learned later in life about processing meat from his hunting and fishing trips, he opened the Boozy Pig. The location is a whole-animal butcher shop with an adjacent restaurant that not only utilize the meats, but produce things such as lard to make biscuits, or beef fat to use in a deep fryer.
Tambuzzo also sources from local family farms that raise their protein in an ethical way.
The most unique thing about the location, however, is the meat vending machine, which was installed in March.
The machine, which takes debit, credit, Apple Pay or Google Pay, is filled with “all kinds of stuff,” including beef jerky and raw meats such as bacon, pork, Italian sausage and ground beef, Tambuzzo said. It also offers different types of burgers and different cuts of steak, he added.
Sometimes, you might even be able to grab one Boozy Pig’s Cuban sandwiches out of the vending machine, for a late-night snack. Their offerings vary depending on what’s in store.
For those nervous about trying any of Boozy Pig’s meats, especially from a vending machine stationed outside in hot, sunny Florida, Tambuzzo assures visitors that the machine is very “smart” and there’s no need to worry.
“It has sensors inside that regulate the temperature. It stays anywhere between 33 and 38 degrees. Of course, it goes into its own cycles where it may get a little higher than that,” he said. “But there are safety features as well, so if the temperature does go above 41 degrees and stays above that for 20 minutes, it shuts off and it will not vend.”
Instead of glass, the front of the machine is made of plexiglass, which doesn’t reflect the heat of the sun on the inside. It’s also built so no bugs or rainwater get into the machine.
Tambuzzo said the response to the machine has been well-received in the community.
“For the most part, people have never seen anything like this. I get quite a few people wanting to take a picture in front of it or quite a few people wanting to buy something out of it, even though we’re open and that same product is available inside,” he said. “They like the novelty of it.”
There aren’t many, if any at all, of these meat vending machines around Florida, or even in the country, he said. The closest ones Tambuzzo knows of are in Rochester, New York.
Tambuzzo is hoping Boozy Pig can get more of these meat vending machines around the Tampa Bay area.
“We would love to see more of these around town. We would love to really expand our footprint and our exposure to put more quality protein in the community,” he said.
Tambuzzo thinks his grandfather would feel honored to see him still making sausage and continuing to grow as a business, even if it means expanding into the vending-machine category.
“I think that he would laugh about it,” Tambuzzo said. “I think that he’d probably tell me to pour him a scotch and we’d sit and laugh and talk about it. I think that he would be very proud. I think that he would be tickled.”
Though the Boozy Pig butcher shop and restaurant are closed Monday and Tuesday, the meat vending machine remains open 24/7.