Up until 2022, NFTs have been used in the restaurant world primarily as marketing devices. Most have been some form of digital artwork or other one-of-a-kind creation.

NFTs have been steadily making their way into the restaurant world (along with seemingly every other sphere, from art to politics). And so a restaurant whose founders claim is the first of its kind, essentially offering admittance only to the holders of a limited number of non-fungible tokens, seemed inevitable.

In Janurary of 2022, a restaurant known as Flyfish Club, a seafood-inspired restaurant created the first NFT restaurant token. Flyfish founded by serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk with restaurant veterans David Rodolitz, a founding partner of Empellon Restaurant Group who is CEO; along with chief culinary officer Josh Capon, most recently of Lure Fishbar; and executive vice president of operations Conor Hanlon, formerly of NoHo Hospitality.

Flyfish at the 10,000-square-foot restaurant — which is not expected to open until 2023 — members will pay for food and drink with the more traditional U.S. dollar, not with cryptocurrency. But the idea is to turn the membership itself into an asset — one that could potentially generate passive income if members lease their NFTs to others for period of time, which is possible, or if they sell for a higher price.

To gain access to the club, members must have a Flyfish NFT, which is a unique digital asset stored on the blockchain and purchased using cryptocurrency. The company released 1,501 tokens this month, bringing in around $15 million, according to David Rodolitz, the founder and CEO of VCR.

As an NFT, the membership becomes an asset to the token holder, which can later be sold, transferred or leased to others on the secondary market. 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.

Once you own the Flyfish Membership NFT, you will be able to make reservations on our website. Non-token holders will not have the ability to make reservations.

As a NFT, the memberships are tradable on the secondary market.

What does it mean by the secondary market?

Once a person purchases the original token from Flyfish Club, all future transactions happen on a secondary market, such as Opensea.io.

Cryptocurrencies are working their way into mainstream finance, and VRC Group is not the only restaurant operator exploring opportunities. Cincinnati-based Wings and Rings this year will accept franchise fees in Bitcoin, for example, and the Starbucks app has integration with the Bakkt digital wallet through which loyalty members can use digital assets to reload their Starbucks cards.

Starbucks’ app has integration with the Bakkt digital wallet platform through which guests can convert digital assets into dollars to reload their Starbucks card.  Select Subway stores have reportedly accepted Bitcoin for payment as far back as 2013.

In accepting crypto as a franchise fee, Wings and Rings would face the decision of converting it immediately to dollars or holding it as an investment, as some companies are doing. Cryptocurrency is complex and full of risk, Flaherty said. “It’s very erratic, so not for the faint of heart, for sure.”