No, NFTs won’t save the restaurant industry

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Hi, I belong to the critic Caesar Hernandez. This week, like Jesus Christ, King of Drift, he’s holding the handle for Soleil.

Hearing about NFTs these days is like dealing with the barking of insects that are constantly flying past your ears. It’s annoying, but it’s easy to ignore. At least until last month when a pop-up for an NFT restaurant called Bored & Hungry opened on Long Beach.

OK, it may sound like a difficult concept to understand, but let’s break it down. “NFT Restaurant” is neither a jpeg of Krusty Krab nor a media file stored on the blockchain. Rather, it is a restaurant that sells food using NFT’s intellectual property.

What is an NFT? NFT stands for “Non-Fungible Token” and basically means that it is a file type (image, video, or song) stored on a server (also known as a blockchain). The irreplaceable aspect is the individuality of each file. It’s unique, like a car with bumpers ringing from the time you return to the pole while you’re upset about the burger. However, although the car is concrete, the NFT exists only on the blockchain, but the owner also owns its intellectual property.

So for Bored & Hungry, co-owner Andy Nguyen, known for launching Afters Ice Cream, uses NFTs purchased from Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape (two of the most popular and expensive NFTs) as marketing devices. Sell ​​cheeseburgers. This is where the classification of “NFT restaurants” is a bit confusing. This is because it is more NFT-themed. Bored & Hungry doesn’t actually sell NFTs, only hamburgers, but uses popular NFT images to attract customers. It also advertises that you can pay for food using cryptocurrencies, but all prices are listed in cash.

What are the benefits of using NFTs as a marketing tool? Now, his ape illustration attracted 1,500 people to the Long Beach pop-up at the grand opening on April 9th. The waiting time for Smashburger was over 2 hours. However, the line has been declining since its debut. I was able to order without waiting in line.

How about a hamburger, may you ask? As long as I wanted to hate it, it’s actually solid – not what I was looking for, but one that might wonder if I was in the area. The burger is made by Trill Burger, a pop-up that is a collaboration between Nguyen and rapper Bun B. My suggestion: Skip the burger and listen to Bun B’s poem in “International Players Anthem” instead.

Initially, Bored & Hungry was supposed to be a 90-day pop-up, but it was announced that it will stay here this week. As a result, these apes are forever loose in the real world, not just on the Internet. Like a gorilla-sized albatross, the future reminds us that we are old now.

Aside from that marketing tactic, my real complaint about the restaurant is that while it clearly takes advantage of cultural moments, it tries to disguise it as a movement with a humane mission. .. The next step is reported to be an NFT restaurant group called Food Fighters Universe. The group plans to launch 10,000 NFTs and says it hopes to “save the restaurant industry.” It’s not clear what that means, but in an interview he argues that the usefulness of NFTs can help with staffing issues and wages.

Sorry, it sounds like the same old song and dance, claiming that this new one solves the problems of the industry already suffering. And it highlights one of the biggest problems surrounding NFTs: markets reward those who act quickly, and it is often ready and well-capitalized, often celebrities and early adopters. Means.

Nguyen spent $ 267,000 on one of the Bored Ape NFTs used to market Bored & Hungry. His NFT probably doesn’t cost much. He seems to be using Bored & Hungry as a test run to use NFT IP as a way to market the restaurant. It just seems to suggest that the restaurant will add a budget for digital art. Yeah, that sounds like a really good solution.

The most annoying thing for me is that the model in this restaurant stimulates the same hollow horror as some ghost kitchens. This is a soulless attempt to capture the spirit of the times by combining pop culture and food trends. It has the same energy as the so-called “corporate revitalization”, except that you have to pay for it.

I contacted several Smashburger makers and asked for their views on beefie and blockchain pairing. Some people, like the Bay Area Smashburger pop-up SmishSmash’s Vic Donado, believe it’s “really, really smart.”

“Now it’s all about exclusivity. It feels like everyone is about to catch the next wave,” says Donad. The concept of hype and rarity is embedded in the ideology surrounding NFTs. Effective use of FOMO basically means that if you don’t join now, you’ll be left behind in the future.

One chef, who preferred to remain anonymous so as not to poke the beehives of ape lovers, believes that “they are poaching our audience.” They take advantage of the hardcore supporter culture and community surrounding food pop-ups and small artists. “

Los Angeles love hour Aaron Lopez has mixed feelings about it. “Growing up, I didn’t have the luxury of” extra money “to invest. … I invest in people in my community and make them feel good, ”says Lopez. “Cryptography may be the future, but hamburgers are eternal.”

When I visited Bored & Hungry, I asked the cashier what he knew about NFTs. He looked at me with a confused look. “Not so many, I was hired to work here.”

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