In October 2021, Chipotle became the first fast-food chain to launch a virtual restaurant on the metaverse gaming platform Roblox. Here, fans could join an experience called the ‘Chipotle Boorito Maze’, dress their avatars in Chipotle-inspired costumes such as a Chip Bag Ghost, Burrito Mummy or Guacenstein and visit the virtual restaurant to avail promo codes for a free entree—redeemable via the app or website.
The following month, McDonald’s and Budweiser dropped their own non-fungible token (NFT) collections. While the former American chain featured ten digital versions of its elusive sandwich, McRib, the latter launched 1,936 virtual cans to commemorate 1936, the year of the first Budweiser can—selling out in less than an hour. So if people are lining up to buy limited edition NFTs of food and drinks, why wouldn’t they get in line to enter a restaurant made just for them? Even better, what if they could own custom cookbooks and cocktail menus on the blockchain or even have the official rights to a specific dinner table in a restaurant hosted on the metaverse?
Dubbed as the “world’s first NFT restaurant” and scheduled to open in early 2023, Flyfish Club (FFC) is a seafood-inspired joint that aims to serve private members and their guests. Basing their membership model around cryptocurrency, interested parties will have to purchase a Flyfish Club NFT—which will grant them “unlimited access to a private dining room that will span 10,000+ square feet in an iconic, New York City location.” The space is also said to consist of a bustling cocktail lounge, upscale restaurant, intimate omakase room, and an outdoor arena. Caviar with crypto, anyone?
Here, NFT holders would earn exclusive access to the space without monthly or annual dues. “By leveraging NFT, we’re able to authenticate ownership of the membership,” David Rodolitz, founder and CEO of the Flyfish Club, told Eater. “So it truly becomes something that’s owned by the token holder—there are no ongoing fees and no yearly initiation.” For the founder, this transforms private membership into an asset that can be resold by its owner. “As the token holder you can sell it, you can use it, you can lease it, or you can monetise it over time. It creates a different dynamic between us and the token holders,” he added.
According to Rodolitz, attaching resale value to the membership aligns member and owner financial interests. After all, who wouldn’t want the club to succeed, given how NFT holders would undoubtedly want their digital assets to appreciate in value over time? “Imagine if people owned their tables at Rao’s from 100 years ago,” Rodolitz said. “Imagine if someone could actually sell that? What would that be worth? That’s what we’re doing.” Although you only require an NFT to enter, you would have to cough up some real dough to consume fungible fish here.
Digital media entrepreneur Ruth McCartney and David Christopher Skinner, chef of the 12-seat-a-night restaurant Eculent, are the masterminds behind Gourmet NFT: aimed to take chefs “from the butcher block to the blockchain” by offering them a platform to sell individual recipes directly to consumers. “I’ve always thought it was terribly unfair that chefs don’t get royalties and residuals unless they go through all the trouble of writing a cookbook,” McCartney said in the interview with Eater, “which most chefs don’t have the resources or the time to do… Most chefs that produce cookbooks make very little [money] from it, so it’s also a great way to support your favourite chefs.”
Chef Skinner perceives NFT recipes as the virtual version of his grandmother’s recipe box. But in this case, they live in a digital wallet. “The ability to create a bespoke, custom cookbook that you own makes it different from buying an eBook, which isn’t curated for you,” he said, while McCartney referred to their product as a “fractional cookbook” where chefs have total control over how many NFT recipes they mint. Plus, all of this data is encrypted, thereby ruling out the threat of unverified access.
On the flip side, however, it’s unclear how initiatives like Gourmet NFT plan to authenticate the rightful owners before recipes are minted and ensure the proceeds go into the right pockets—since most of them can’t be copyrighted legally.
Conceived in December 2021 by Los Angeles restaurateur Andy Nguyen, Bored & Hungry is a fast food outlet based on, you guessed it, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). Scheduled to launch on 9 April as a 90-day pop up in Long Beach, California, this new smash burger concept will feature burger boxes, fry holders, soft drink cups as well as employee uniforms adorned with the $387,000-worth BAYC NFTs—including one Bored Ape and two Mutant Apes—that Nguyen owns.
“What we’re doing is giving back to the Web3 community, getting an in-real-life experience for them,” Nguyen told Input. “But also for people that are sceptical—who love referring to NFTs as JPEGs—it shows them that we’re building up a business, a brand, and a new ecosystem out of the IP that we purchased.”
Given how Nguyen has secured the rights to all three NFTs, he can essentially use them in whatever way he wants. “The reason we used the Bored Ape as an experiment is that it makes a large statement,” he explained. “But it goes beyond Bored Apes. We can tap into other NFT products, team up with another company and work with their IP, developing concepts and their community.” At the moment, Bored & Hungry hopes to have a working Bitcoin ATM in the restaurant and is looking to accept payments for meals in cryptocurrency. Bored Ape holders are also invited to its grand opening with a variety of merch, Web3 and NFT-related surprises planned for the event.
Well, I guess BAYC enthusiasts finally have the perfect place to take their potential partners—with whom they might’ve matched with using the Lonely Ape Dating Club. Now, it’s just a matter of time before Bored & Hungry makes it to Otherside, the alleged metaverse BAYC is set to launch in April 2022.