TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A meat vending machine outside of the Boozy Pig butcher shop and restaurant in Tampa is offering up fresh cuts, Italian sausage and more meaty snacks 24/7 in Tampa.
Growing up, owner Andrew Tambuzzo 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 after getting in to hunting and fishing, he opened the Boozy Pig. The location is a whole animal butcher shop, with an adjacent restaurant which utilizes its meats and many other parts of an animal to make things like lard to make biscuits and 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 takes debit, credit, Apple Pay or Google Pay and is filled with beef jerky, bacon, different flavors of burgers, different cuts of steak, pork, Italian sausage, ground beef and “all kinds of stuff!” Tambuzzo said.
He said you might even be able to grab one of their Cuban sandwiches in the vending machine for a late night snack. Their offerings vary depending on what they have in store.
If you’re nervous about trying any of Boozy Pig’s meats from a vending machine outside of the location, in hot, sunny Florida, Tambuzzo said there is no need to worry. It’s a very “smart” machine and is well regulated.
“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.”
The front of the machine is not made out of glass, rather plexiglass, which doesn’t reflect the heat of the sun on the inside. It’s built well for the outdoors, no bugs get in to the machine and neither does rainwater.
Tambuzzo said the response to the machine has been great and 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. 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. He said he’d love to have one in downtown St. Petersburg.
“Hyde Park Village, Sparkman Wharf, Palma Ceia Country Club, [I] called a bunch of places trying to get our foot in the door,” he said. “Most people don’t want to listen to me, especially when I say ‘meat vending machine.’ People are like, ‘what are you talking about?’”
The Boozy Pig is all about transparency in the local food system and Tambuzzo said the meat vending machine is a great resource for that.
“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.
He thinks his grandfather would feel honored to see him still making sausage and continuing to grow as a business, even if the meat vending machine is quite unique.
“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.”
The meat vending machine outside of the Boozy Pig is open 24/7 and located at 3255 West Cypress Street in Tampa. The Boozy Pig butcher shop and restaurant are closed Monday and Tuesday. They are open Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the restaurant side and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the butcher shop. Both are open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.