Kill Crypto Food Culture Before It's Too Late

A new crypto-themed restaurant called Doge Burger just opened. This is the last straw.

It's easy to feel helpless in the face of dystopian food innovation. Hell, I accidentally stumbled into a ghost kitchen a few months back after placing a pickup order from a seemingly standard restaurant website. It happens to the best of us. The pandemic has dramatically altered restaurant culture, to be sure. But it's important to realize that some of these changes—crypto-themed virtual restaurants and NFT food halls, for example—are only as powerful as consumer choice.

Advertisement

What are crypto restaurants?

Ugh, okay. Let's get into it. Some background: Doge Burger, a virtual restaurant attached to a cloud kitchen (shudder), has just opened in Dubai. At Doge Burger, inspired by the Doge meme-cum-crypto mascot, guests can pay for their food with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or, yes, Dogecoin (but not Bonecoin). The food is then delivered to the customer's doorstep—all without any actual human contact.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, hospitality investment firm Cordia Corporation announced the debut of its Crypto Food Hall NFT Chef Collection. Cordia describes the endeavor as a "collection of 1000 unique chefs working in our virtual food hall." The firm is asking independent restaurants to purchase a "digital chef" using cryptocurrency. (As far as I can tell, these chefs are... cartoon avatars? Like a Neopets situation. Remember Neopets?) In exchange, the independent restaurants will get access to celebrity virtual restaurants (okay?), as well as "crypto marketing support, exposure... to the NFT community and potential sales of your digital gift cards to Cordia." In other words, nothing of real value.

This is lunacy. It's the collision of obscene tech money and restaurant culture, and I can't foresee a single positive outcome. That brings me to my core argument, folks: crypto food culture is ugly, but it's not inevitable. You have a choice as to whether or not to participate in all of this. You don't have to order a Doge burger with Dogecoin. You don't have to patronize ghost kitchens. You can simply... not.

Advertisement

The future of crypto restaurants

Maybe I'm naive. Maybe consumer ethics are futile against the mega money fueling the crypto industry. Maybe we're all doomed thanks to the greed and pseudo-innovation of tech bros who look like sentient wax figures. But I'm not ready to give up just yet.

Advertisement

First, crypto mining presents an enormous environmental risk via energy use and emissions. But more than that, the concept of a crypto restaurant is even more faceless and opaque than a ghost kitchen. It doesn't bode well for workers' rights, and it certainly isn't conducive to the joy of a traditional dining experience. Even worse, ghost kitchens are faster and cheaper to operate than, say, family-owned restaurants; the more they spread, the harder it'll be for independent restaurants to have a fair shot at decent real estate.

So, yes, it's fun to masquerade as a hypebeast for a day and get in where the gettin's good. It's fun to dream about striking it rich on the crypto market and retiring to Nevada with a shed full of high-end pizza ovens. But we still have a choice here. Choosing to spend your dollars—normal dollars, not Doge dollars—at a local eatery instead of ordering from a faceless NFT chef is more powerful than you think.

Advertisement

 

Recommended

Advertisement