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Marla Aaron’s Latest Vending Machine Supports the Struggling Restaurant Industry
It just made its debut at Rockefeller Center.
New York—Of the many surreal images of a shutdown New York City that have haunted its residents during the pandemic, it was stacks of empty chairs inside dim restaurants in her East Harlem neighborhood that resonated most with Marla Aaron.
In a statement the jewelry designer noted, “I am a small business owner and the struggle over the last year was real and complex in the jewelry industry. That said, our pain doesn’t even compare with how the restaurant industry has been challenged during the pandemic.”
Aaron is channeling her sadness over the state of the restaurant industry into action, and into jewelry, in a program called “Take a Seat for Restaurants.”
Known for her innovative methods of jewelry making and selling, she’s applying her vending machine jewelry concept to a charitable project, this time stocking it with small silver chairs that can be worn on a chain as a pendant or displayed as a tiny art object, with proceeds benefitting World Central Kitchen.
Previously housed at such locations as the Brooklyn Museum and The William Vale Hotel, this week the vending machine has landed at Rockefeller Center.
Each two-inch sterling silver chair sold will aid in World Central Kitchen’s mission to feed and empower communities. Since its founding by founder and chef José Andrés and his wife Patricia, the organization has turned often to disaster relief.
In 2020 and today, that has meant serving food from thousands of local restaurants to families affected by the pandemic around the United States, in an initiative dubbed “Restaurants for the People.” The effort supports both individuals and the small businesses that serve them.
“The Chair,” which Aaron designed to look like the most recognizable and ubiquitous version of a restaurant chair, sells for $250, with 100 percent of proceeds benefitting the nonprofit.
She said of the pandemic and its effect on local restaurants, “It has been heartbreaking as a New Yorker but the same thing is playing out with restaurants around the world. I wanted to do something immediate and am thrilled to support World Central Kitchen. Their work with
In addition to the “Take a Seat for Restaurants” vending machine located outside of the Today Show studio at 1 Rockefeller Plaza between 48th and 49th Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, “The Chair” is available for purchase on the Marla Aaron website, and at the company’s Diamond District showroom.
It’s also available at select retailers, who are not taking any profits from the endeavor. Even Aaron’s silver supplier helped multiply the “Take a Seat for Restaurants” impact, donating the silver for the first few hundred chairs.
The winners, picked by a group of judges and voted as the public’s favorite, will be announced in a webinar on Oct. 11.
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