HomeBlogBlogWhy Did The First-Ever Crypto Fast Food Restaurant Close?

Why Did The First-Ever Crypto Fast Food Restaurant Close?

In 2024, cryptocurrency is in an interesting place, and crypto conversion platforms have started to surge in popularity again as investors race towards the newest use case for the biggest and most lucrative tokens on the market.

In this case, the rise of Bitcoin futures exchange-traded funds allows investors to enter the space without necessarily owning a wallet themselves and this allows for crypto to be used as more than a mere speculative asset.

Cryptocurrency, at its core, was intended to be a digital currency and a way to buy and sell without relying on fiat currency and the banking infrastructure that comes with it. That was the ultimate goal of decentralised finance.

In particular, there was the dream of crypto becoming such a normal part of people’s lives that you could buy everyday essentials using a bundle of Satoshi rather than pounds, dollars, euros or Swiss francs.

Part of the appeal of Bitcoin Pizza Day was that it ultimately showed that Bitcoin was more than a residual number that went up when a computer processed transactions but was a bonafide currency that could be used to buy something as mundane as a couple of pizzas.

However, well over a decade later, this part of the dream has not quite come to pass, and whilst exotic purchases have been made with cryptocurrency, and tokens have been exchanged for digital assets like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), we are still quite some distance away from food shops regularly made using bitcoin.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but a lot of the issues can be seen in the rise and fall of the world’s first crypto fast food restaurant, Bored & Hungry, which closed and left its Long Beach mother base after just two years.

Beyond The Bitcoin Bucket

In 2018, KFC Canada unveiled a limited-time meal deal known as the Bitcoin Bucket, which for the rough equivalent of $20, a hungry DeFi evangelist could tuck into 10 chicken strips, waffle fries, a medium side dish, gravy and two dipping sauces.

The price often fluctuated due to the volatility of crypto, and it was only designed to be a limited-time marketing offer, but it highlighted the interest in using crypto to buy food.

The most ambitious attempt at this was the Bored & Hungry restaurant, which opened on 9th April 2022, inspired by the then-popular and lucrative Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection and the relatively high values of crypto at the time.

The restaurant was opened by Andy Nguyen and was possible because one of the consequences of owning a Bored Ape (in this case #6184) was that you get the intellectual property rights to that specific NFT, which became the face of the restaurant.

The food, by all accounts, was limited in options but was generally praised for being relatively high quality for a themed burger bar, although some later Yelp reviews did characterise the food as “fairly mediocre”.

Based in Long Beach, perhaps the best possible location for a themed restaurant, Bored & Hungry was unusual not only for the NFTs but also for accepting cryptocurrency from its initial launch.

The currencies in question were Ethereum, the standard currency for NFTs, as well as ApeCoin, the cryptocurrency of the Bored Ape Yacht Club that had been recently launched at the time of the restaurant’s inception.

There were two huge problems with Bored & Hungry’s reliance on crypto. The first was that, according to insiders who talked to the LA Times, the system the company used was “unwieldy and unpopular” with customers, and given the volatility of the tokens, prices could surge and fall dramatically on an hourly basis.

The other was that within a week of Bored & Hungry’s launch, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it would start to regulate cryptocurrencies more closely, treating them as unregistered securities.

This led to a chain of events throughout 2022 that led to a broad sell-off of various crypto tokens and multiple major institutions in the space going under entirely, culminating in the calamitous collapse of FTX.

Within just two months of Bored & Hungry’s launch, it stopped accepting crypto and closed its Long Beach location nearly two years after its launch following the brand’s (but not the NFT’s) sale to Hungry DAO, with a focus on international locations in Seoul, Manilla, and pop-ups in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.

By that point, it had become simply an NFT-themed restaurant, rather than one that really used cryptocurrency. What may need to change is either less volatility in currency prices, a focus away from speculation or new technologies that speed up and mitigate this volatility.

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