Can Bitcoin conform to tradition?
This new currency is so modern and so different from the usual dollar and euro, that for most people it seems disconnected from economic reality, and even more so – from their lives. Although paying with Bitcoin is no more complicated than paying with a credit card, for most it still seems like an almost esoteric experience.
There is definitely a psychological barrier to Bitcoin adoption.
To lower this barrier, what could be better than associating Bitcoin with something widely recognized and cherished? Something with a reputation that speaks for itself, capable of taking Bitcoin out of the shadow of “internet speculation” and into the realm of legitimate alternative money?
For French people, traditional restaurants fit this role perfectly, especially when combined with a rare and captivating story of craftsmanship and heritage.
This is a story about how the centenary tradition of Lyonnais eating and drinking is being harnessed to boost Bitcoin adoption.
If there’s one trait all the French have in common, it’s their shared love of eating and drinking. They practiced these seemingly uncomplicated things with so much passion and dedication that it became an art.
Lyon is the capital of French gastronomy and home to a surprising number of restaurants. Among them, the traditional “bouchon” holds a special place in the hearts of the French: it serves traditional food in a traditional setting, and is comforting for both the stomach and the soul.
Like many bouchons, Comptoir Brunet in downtown Lyon is a family business, serving staples of Lyon cuisine such as andouillet or chicken liver cake since 1934. However, it differs from the others in that it is now run by a Avid Bitcoin users.
Benjamin Baldassini fell down the rabbit hole 5 years ago, after earning his degree in IT. For a brief moment he even considered contributing to the Bitcoin database, but after his father died, he was called upon to uphold the family tradition and decided to take over the restaurant.
After ensuring that he was well equipped to perpetuate Lyon’s rich gastronomic tradition, and that his famous pike dishes in lobster sauce were as delicate as those served under his father’s supervision, the new restaurateur decided to bring Bitcoin into the picture.
Enabling Bitcoin payments was the first thing to do.
As a true hardliner, instead of choosing the existing cryptocurrency payment solution for merchants, Benjamin used his IT degree to use and install his own Bitcoin node, followed by a BTCPay server, a payment processor on the Lightning Network. This free, self-hosted solution was developed by Nicolas Durier, another Lyon native and regular contributor to Bitcoin projects, and seems like the most natural choice, even if it presents some technical challenges.
After the restaurant staff was equipped with Bitcoin and Lightning Network wallets, and the door sign proudly announced “Bitcoin Accepted Here”… the vast majority of customers continued to pay for their parsley-fried frogs’ legs in euros.
To encourage payments in Bitcoin, Benjamin went further and took advantage of two other French traditions – the “apéro” and fine alcoholic beverages.
On the first Wednesday of every month, French cities test their warning system. In Lyon, this also refers to the bicoin-only apéro at Bouchon Comptoir Brunet.
More than just a simple pre-dinner drink, as its name suggests, apéro (short for aperitif) is an important part of life in France. Combining a fun afternoon with snacks and wine (or beer) provides a great opportunity to gather with friends and reshape the world.
By enforcing an apéro paid only in Bitcon, Café Brunet has seen an impressive influx of… Bitcoin customers in the city. However, while providing a space for the community to come together and spend their bitcoins was a valuable contribution, Benjamin felt it was still a step short of providing a tangible incentive to adopt bitcoin.
That’s when he came up with a new way to introduce Bitcoin to newcomers, and a very French way at that: one that involved mountains, monks, and a centuries-old recipe of digestive herbs.
Experts may have already concluded that it is Chartreuse – a fine herbal spirit distilled by Carhausian monks in the Chartreuse Mountains of southeastern France. This vintage digestive’s formula of 130 herbs and flowers is a closely guarded secret, and Original Chartreuse is a rare drink to find.
In fact, it’s even rarer now. Despite great demand from the world’s best bars and restaurants (especially in the United States), the monks recently decided to reduce their production “to preserve their spiritual health.” After all, Chartreuse distilling was never about business; She focused on preserving the knowledge and heritage of the monastery, raising enough money to support it, allowing the monks to do their main work – prayer and meditation.
The monks sell their alcoholic drinks mainly to those who had bought them in the past, and never exceeded the previous quantities. This makes the list of Chartreuse vendors very small, and as it happens, Bouchon Comptoir Brunet is on it.
The restaurant receives a steady number of bottles of Chartreuse each year, including the very rare Reine de Liqueurs, the queen of liqueurs. This is what Benjamin decided to take advantage of.
Now, those who want to taste the unparalleled Reine des Liqueurs must buy themselves some first. This desirable and rare alcoholic beverage is being used as a means to promote payments with an equally rare and desirable money – Bitcoin. Admittedly, there is a certain elegance to this approach.
Like any currency, Bitcoin has to be used, and the work Benjamin and others like him are doing around the world to encourage Bitcoin payments is extremely important. Even more so, when this work is backed by the power of tradition, honoring the legacy of generations of Lyonnaise chefs and Chartreuse monks.
In hindsight, Benjamin could not have made a better choice to promote Bitcoin than becoming a restaurateur.
This is a guest post by Mary Butyryaeva. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
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