The business, Beverly Hills Caviar, is owned by husband and wife team Kelly Stern and Brian Scheiner, who both come from long lines of Eastern European “caviar families.”
The idea of selling caviar from a vending machine may seem offbeat, but Stern says it’s a business model that works. While the machines definitely attract a curious audience, there also are caviar aficionados, including chefs, who come with their credit cards in hand.
“We actually patented the technology because it was so time-intensive and we needed so many engineers just to get it done right,” says Stern.
Then there also was the matter of security, no small concern, given that the daily inventory adds up to around $50,000. Without revealing any secrets, let’s just say that it’s unlikely that even someone with the talents of James Bond could crack these cases. (And you might want to comb your hair before approaching the machine, because three cameras will be taking your picture.)
Some serious shoppers no doubt plan ahead and come equipped with a cooler in their car. But no need to fret if your caviar purchase is an impulse buy. It emerges from the vending machine in a specially designed insulated box, in a “frosty state,” which provides a window of about three hours to get it back in a fridge or onto your plate.
“By the time you get home it’s usually just perfect and you can eat it, and it will be the tastiest thing you ever had,” says Stern.