You've heard of fast food, but how about fax food?

Workers in downtown Salt Lake City are discovering that the office machine they use to send reports to company big wigs in New York can also help them get a quick lunch."Maybe this is the thing of the future," said Milio Mascaro, who manages Hardee's fast-food restaurant at 217 E. Fourth South. His restaurant is one of the first around to take food orders from its facsimile machine.

"We're kind of the pilot store for it, testing the ease and convenience," he said. "I think it's a pretty good idea we've got going."

Mascaro said it only takes about 15 seconds to fill out and send a specially prepared fax menu, but it can save customers a good six minutes during the busiest lunch and breakfast hours.

"At 12 o'clock, everyone in downtown Salt Lake City goes to lunch," he said. "(Fax users) know they have a jump on people because they ordered in advance."

The idea hasn't made much of an impact yet, but Mascaro said its use has continually increased since the restaurant started taking fax orders more than a month ago. So far, "faxers" have only heard about the concept from word of mouth and from a banner outside the store, but he believes the fax-food popularity will grow.

More Hardee's restaurants may soon adopt the fax-food concept, he said. Every week, company officials evaluate reports on the project - reports that are sent by way of the fax machine, of course.