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As Bitcoin price started trading below the $40,000 mark, crypto millionaires and investors on Twitter started sharing memes about getting jobs at fast-food restaurants.
More than a year after a Canada-based Middle Eastern restaurant chain converted its fiat cash reserves into Bitcoin, the owner reported the move helped save the business during the pandemic.
According to a Tuesday report from Canadian news outlet Toronto Star, when Tahini’s restaurant owners Aly and Omar Hamam and their cousin Ahmed decided to convert the company’s savings into Bitcoin (BTC) in August 2020 because it offered “a much better alternative to saving cash,” the price of the crypto asset was roughly $12,000. Aly Hamam reported the business had benefited from the initial crypto investment.
“We made the move to the corporate balance sheet on a Bitcoin-standard back in August of 2020, and since then, we’re up more than 300 percent on our initial investment,” said Hamam. “It’s really done its job of protecting us against inflation and it worked as we intended it to.”
The BTC price rose to an all-time high of more than $67,000 in November before dropping to $41,729 at the time of publication. Despite the company’s sales dropping 80% in a week at the start of the pandemic, Hamam said the crypto investment had allowed them to expand from three restaurant locations to nine at a time when many in the industry are facing financial difficulties, and it planned to increase that number to up to 25 by the end of the year.
“We keep a working capital for about three to six months in cash, and then the rest all goes into Bitcoin,” said Hamam. “So, whenever we have an expansion, we’re not forced to sell our Bitcoin to fund that expansion. We try to operate conservatively, where we never have to sell our Bitcoin and we just keep accumulating on our treasury.”
#Bitcoin is hope for both big and small businesses alike
— Tahinis Restaurants (@TheRealTahinis) January 19, 2022
None of Tahini’s locations in Ontario currently accept BTC or other cryptocurrencies for payments, but they are each home to a Bitcoin ATM, allowing patrons to purchase tokens before, during, or after meals. At the time of the initial investment — the amount of which is still unclear — Hamam hinted the business would continue to use Bitcoin as a reserve asset indefinitely if there wasn’t “a need for fiat.”
“We’re going to continue to strive to make the best food that we can… and with Bitcoin, we’re also wanting to help people financially.”
Related: Landry’s Restaurant Group to introduce Bitcoin loyalty program
While restaurants like Tahini’s don’t seem to be the target of regulators in the Canadian province, it isn’t always the same story with local crypto firms. The Ontario Securities Commission has cracking down on crypto exchanges operating in the region, including Binance, OKEx, Bybit, KuCoin and Polo Digital Assets. On Jan. 14, Bitfinex announced it would be closing the accounts for Ontario-based customers who have no balances on the platform, while many users “will no longer have access to any services” starting on March 1.
VCR Group, the hospitality company founded by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, announced the live token sale of its latest members-only private dining club in New York City, called Flyfish Club. Prospective seafood-restaurant-goers must purchase their membership on the blockchain, sold as a nonfungible token (NFT).
Flyfish Club (FFC) is the world’s first member’s only private dining club where membership is purchased on the blockchain as a Non-Fungible-Token (NFT) and owned by the token-holder to gain access to our restaurant and various culinary, cultural and social experiences.
— Flyfish Club (@Flyfishclub) January 12, 2022
VCR Group answered the question “Why NFT?” on the Flyfish Club website, stating:
“By utilizing NFT’s, FFC is able to create a loyal, member-community that we can provide special experiences for. NFT’s create new modernistic financial models, which will allow FFC to deliver an exceptional and sustainable product for years to come.”
There appear to be two types of memberships available on the official website. The regular tier alleges to give members access to the main dining room, outdoor space and cocktail lounge, and special events for 2.5 Ether (ETH), or $8,474 at time of writing. The second, pricier tier — Flyfish Omakase — will grant access to all of the above plus a 14-seat omakase room and is now available for 4.25 ETH or $14,400.
According to its website, Flyfish Membership NFT holders can lease their token to non–tokenholders on a monthly basis, or they can resell it. There are also no reoccurring annual fees. And despite cryptocurrency being required to acquire membership, customers can pay for their food and beverages in U.S. dollars.
Flyfish Club is the second concept from VCR Group, following the opening of the omakase-style Japanese restaurant Ito, which is also in New York City but not members-only. Flyfish Club plans to open in early 2023.
Related: YouTuber trades Tesla Roadster for NFT
Flyfish Club claims to be the first members-only NFT restaurant; however, it is not the first culinary concept to integrate crypto into its business model. More recently, Crypto Street Restaurant opened up in Clearwater, Florida, boasting crypto-themed wall art, menu items and the acceptance of crypto payments.
Food delivery platform Grubhub has partnered with Bitcoin rewards app Lolli to give hungry people the opportunity to earn crypto back on their orders.
In a Wednesday announcement, Lolli said Grubhub customers would be able to earn $1 in Bitcoin (BTC) rewards each time they used the platform’s extension or app. The funds will be available for transfer or storing in a user’s Lolli wallet after earning more than $15, or roughly 0.00026 BTC at the current price of $58,458.
“We must make Bitcoin a part of everyday life,” said Lolli co-founder and CEO Alex Adelman. “Food delivery is a ritual for many and Bitcoin rewards makes Bitcoin a part of that ritual.”
BREAKING: We’re excited to announce @Grubhub is now on Lolli!
Earn $1 in bitcoin every time you order on Grubhub.
This is what bitcoin adoption looks like! https://t.co/b2yK49uO02
— Lolli (@trylolli) December 1, 2021
Launched in 2018, Lolli has teamed up with more than 1,000 merchants to give customers the opportunity to receive BTC rewards when shopping online, including major brands like Microsoft and Macy’s. In July, the platform closed a $10 million Series A funding round led by Acrew Capital, aiming to scale its services to a wider audience. This followed a $5 million funding round in March from investors including Seven Seven Six, the venture capital firm co-founded by Reddit executive chair Alexis Ohanian.
Lolli is not the only platform or brand name to try and serve up crypto adoption alongside a meal. In November, Burger King customers in the United States had the opportunity to earn BTC, Ether (ETH), and Dogecoin (DOGE) through Robinhood after spending $5 or more at the fast food chain. Landry’s Restaurant Group — the company behind the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company — announced a similar initiative last month for diners to earn $25 in BTC for every $250 spent.
Related: Bitcoin rewards triggered shopping frenzy for cardholders
According to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, the price of Bitcoin is $58,458 at the time of publication, having fallen more than 15% since reaching an all-time high of $69,000 on Nov. 10. Cointelegraph reported that the crypto has seen rejection at $60,000 more than once since dropping under the key level in November.
Landry’s Restaurant Group announced a partnership with cryptocurrency firm NYDIG on Tuesday that will enable diners to earn $25 worth of Bitcoin for every $250 spent at the hospitality conglomerate’s eateries.
Landry’s will also begin keeping a portion of its corporate treasury reserves in Bitcoin under the care of NYDIG. The company is known for operating dozens of franchise entities including Morton’s, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, the Rainforest Cafe, and the Palm. Landry’s is owned by billionaire TV personality Tillman Fertita, who also acts as the company’s CEO.
Landry’s director of Digital Asset Strategy Trey Zeluff said in a statement:
“We view Bitcoin as a good choice for a portion of our own treasury, so we want to offer that choice to our customers as well. We’re proud to pioneer this concept for the hospitality industry in partnership with NYDIG.”
Landry’s showed initial signs of interest in the cryptocurrency space earlier this year when it began accepting Bitcoin payments at many of its restaurants back in April. At the time, the company’s CEO said “It’s amazing how simple [a crypto] transaction is, and it is here to stay. This is where it is, and it’s inevitable that this was going to happen.”
CEO Fertita’s interest in cryptocurrency appears to have spread into other facets of his professional life, with his NBA franchise making headlines in the industry in recent months. Back in June 2021, Tillman also announced that he would begin validating blocks for the Akash Network, noting that it was time to “begin investigating mining or validating blocks as the next logical step in our digital asset strategy.”
The NYDIG too has become an active player in the blockchain space, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in 2021 to create Bitcoin-focused solutions for the insurance, banking and clean energy industries. Earlier this month, Cointelegraph also reported that the company had acquired Bitcoin micropayments firm Bottlepay in the hopes of “unlocking the financial infrastructure of the future.”
American grocery store chain Kroger is accepting cryptocurrency payments ahead of the holiday season.
According to an official announcement on Nov. 5, the major retailer will accept Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at all of its stores — Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Fred Meyer, QFC and others — as well as for online purchases.
Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said that the initiative was spurred by increased demand for cashless payments:
“Throughout the pandemic, cashless payments have been thriving, and we see cryptocurrency as a natural progression of the trend to deal less with physical money.”
In 2018, Kroger had broken ties with major payment processor Visa, citing high point-of-sale fees. The retailer eventually restored the relationship in 2019 after Kroger negotiated new terms.
Kroger had previously dabbled in the cryptocurrency space; in 2020 the firm began to offer Bitcoin (BTC) rewards at its store through crypto-based rewards platform Lolli.
Per the announcement, Kroger will “exchange the cryptocurrency for stable currencies close to the point of receipt but doesn’t rule out the possibility of eventually keeping a percentage of it on its balance sheet.”
Bitcoin Cash is a cryptocurrency based on a proof-of-work consensus mechanism that was created via a hard fork from the Bitcoin blockchain. It was initially meant to solve many of Bitcoin’s long-standing issues, notably transaction speed. The hard fork was a controversial move, with many claiming BCH to be more prone to centralization among miners thanks to its larger block sizes.
Crypto has gradually found its way into the grocery store vertical in various forms. In 2019, Safeway — another major American grocery chain — began offering Bitcoin rewards through Lolli, similar to Kroger.
Earlier this summer, crypto ATM firm Coin Cloud announced it was preparing to install machines into 29 H-E-B supermarket locations in Houston Texas.
Cryptocurrencies’ underlying blockchain technology has also been slated to play an important role in grocery. A 2019 study by research firm Gartner predicted that 20 percent of the top 10 global grocers will use blockchain by 2025.
The past few months have seen an explosive uptake of nonfungible tokens (NFT) as crypto artists, gaming enthusiasts, musicians, celebrities and now fast food chains deploy the technology in various ways.
Fast food giants such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell are taking to NFTs because of their capacity to enable gamified promotions and distribution of their products and services.
Here is a quick look at emerging NFT adoption in the fast-food sector.
Taco Bell is a popular fast food brand in the United States thanks to its Mexican-style products. In a March 2021 marketing campaign, Taco Bell launched a new NFT collection emerging as the first among fast-food chains to offer collectible tokens.
Taco Bell NFTs (Taco Art) comprise artistic illustrations of its fast-food offerings, with some buyers paying upward of 10 Ether (ETH) for one Taco Bell NFT. According to tweets from the restaurant chain, earnings generated from the sale were donated to charity.
Not one to be left behind, Burger King announced its entry into the NFT space with the release of a range of digital collectibles under a marketing campaign dubbed “Keep It Real Meals.”
Every Burger King customer will be able to scan the QR code that comes with their meal to receive one of three collectible game pieces. Once a player receives all three, they will receive a fourth token that could be a reward of a digital collectible, a year’s supply of burgers or a call with one of the campaign’s celebrity spokespeople.
Despite China’s ban on nearly everything crypto-related, McDonald’s China branch will release a set of 188 NFTs to its employees and customers as part of a giveaway celebration of the franchise’s 31st anniversary.
The NFTs consist of three-dimensional artistic designs of McDonald’s China’s new office headquarters in a project titled “Big Mac Rubik’s Cube,” and they were built in partnership with digital asset creation agency Cocafe.
The Canadian subsidiary of Pizza Hut, a fast-food chain famous for its all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, released an NFT project called “1 Byte Favourites,” which are digital NFT images of pizza slices.
In a March 17 announcement, the company said it would issue NFT images of a slice of pizza every other week. Each slice and NFT image would come with a different recipe, and interested buyers will have access to the NFTs on Rarible.
Pizza Hut Canada chief marketing officer Daniel Meymen said that the NFT campaign was “an opportunity to give fans another way to get their hands on their favorite Pizza Hut recipes, even if it’s virtual.”
Like every other popular trend online, marketers have hopped onto the NFT bandwagon to get a piece of the pie and grab people’s attention by using the novel technology.
Fast food brands and other consumer good brands are quickly discovering that selling their products with the NFT badge and other digital collectible jargon as part of their campaign is a winning strategy.
Even in cases where the collectibles are not limited or rare, the masses have continued to buy NFTs at exorbitantly high prices. The jury is still out on whether this is the future of brand marketing or just hype that will soon die down.
Fast-food giant McDonald’s China released a set of 188 nonfungible tokens (NFT) on Oct. 8 to celebrate its 31st anniversary in the Chinese market. Branded as “Big Mac Rubik’s Cube,” the NFTs will be distributed among employees and consumers as a part of the giveaway.
The Big Mac Rubik’s Cube NFTs are designed based on the three-dimensional structure of McDonald’s China’s new office headquarters, which was inaugurated along with the launch of the NFTs.
The NFTs are built on the Confluux public blockchain and are created in partnership with Cocafe, a digital asset creation agency – ensuring that “each work is unique, indivisible and can not be tampered with.”
.@McDonalds launches #bigmac Rubik’s cube #NFT collectible on #CONFLUX in ultimate example of east meets west. #nftcollector pic.twitter.com/nj4xWY0Ltu
— Conflux Network Official (@Conflux_Network) October 8, 2021
It is also important to note that a majority stake of McDonald’s China is owned by CITIC Group, a state-owned investment company of the People’s Republic of China.
McDonald’s China did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.
Related: Bitmain stops shipment of Antminer crypto mining rigs into China
McDonald’s China’s move to introduce NFTs in the market seemingly goes against the authority’s intent to ban all crypto operations completely. More recently, the ban forced Bitmain, a crypto mining equipment manufacturer, to stop shipping Antminer mining rigs into China.
Huobi, a crypto exchange from China, stopped new customer registrations after the China ban and will close down all business by the end of the year. Despite China’s resistance, the global crypto ecosystem continues to witness consistent growth. A Cointelegraph report shows that Bitcoin (BTC) mining difficulty has fully recovered after Chinese miners migrated to safer jurisdictions.