A cheeseburger gave me all the hope I need to stay in crypto

Opinion: Even though I didn’t pay for my “Diamond Hands” burger with BTC, don’t let that fool you into thinking that crypto’s development is futile


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The story of my crypto burger begins in 2023.

I had recently begun living in Ealing, West London and I was in love with my neighborhood. Ealing is known for its rich history of film and rock music, thanks to local pop culture powerhouses like Ealing Studios, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Queen’s Freddie Mercury. The place is steeped in very exciting cultural history, even though that history happened to take place in a quiet, leafy family suburb. 

Now, the opening of a cryptocurrency-themed restaurant in this neighborhood in 2023 certainly raised some eyebrows. Was this a scam? Was this some sort of joke? Was this a front for a criminal enterprise? A short-lived pop-up shop with food only meant to be posted on Instagram? 

No — it seemed Crypto Burgers meant serious business, and by that I mean they planned on serving the population of West London real, crypto-themed burgers.

After a month of deliberating on whether or not to check this place out, I deviated from my usual seven-minute drive down the road to the Broadway Mall to swing by. Because as a long-time PR professional, I just couldn’t resist taking an extra detour to drive past Crypto Burgers. Lo and behold, there it was. 

I mean, it wasn’t much, just a small unassuming slab of tiling which had “Crypto Burgers” plastered on it in big yellow writing. But it was a real restaurant on St. Mary’s Road, just near Walpole Park and a stone’s throw away from Ealing Studios (which still produces films to this day like The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Death of Stalin and Murder on the Orient Express). 

Confused but intrigued, I headed in to order myself a “Diamond Hands” burger, which is a meme I’ve always enjoyed engaging with, parroting my devotion to my assets no matter how foolhardy. The burger came with a side of “Bearish Fries” and a “Crypto Shake,” which was just a fancy way of putting bananas and Snickers together into a drink.

I asked the gentleman at the counter, quite forwardly, whether the store was legitimately interested in cryptocurrency or whether it was all a marketing play. 

To my surprise, he replied that Crypto Burgers was actually inspired by a decade of its founders dabbling in crypto trading. I was taken aback — even though I myself am a true crypto fan, I had expected this gimmicky burger cafe to be more of a hype cash grab rather than a genuinely crypto-forward establishment.

I quickly followed this up by asking whether Crypto Burgers then actually took cryptocurrency payments and if so, what ones; again, to my surprise, Crypto Burgers claimed to accept BTC, ETH, USDC and USDT via the Lightning Network.

Now this was exciting. I considered paying for my food on-chain, but being pressed for time and too lazy to go through the motions despite being the only customer there, I paid with my debit card and got my meal. 

Despite my functional understanding of the space through working in it — plus being friends with developers who build genuinely interesting applications — I chose to pay for this transaction in fiat. Aside from demonstrating my laziness that day, this suggests that the state of today’s infrastructure has not gone far enough in cultivating an effective user experience. What if I don’t hold any of those currencies? What if I hold different balances of various currencies across chains and want to cash them in together for my purchase?

Read more from our opinion section: Farcaster just might be the new Crypto Twitter

It’s no wonder that there is currently such an emphasis on curating user experience in crypto — I was standing in a restaurant where I could pay for my Crypto Burger with my crypto, and I opted to use fiat instead, despite having a strong crypto know-how and interest in crypto adoption.

My experience at Crypto Burger shows that cryptocurrencies clearly aren’t here (in their current form, at least) to replace traditional payment systems. But don’t let my first-world problem of not being able to easily buy a burger with crypto indicate that crypto’s development is futile.

There are plenty of people out there who aren’t able to access financial liquidity at all — utilizing cryptocurrency payments in cases where people are unbanked or are refugees could and should be more widespread, and perhaps just isn’t so much for people like me living in West London, trying to buy fast food.

While many things crypto seem to be more like fads or just keeping in trends like the introduction of the Solana phone (or launching a crypto-themed burger restaurant), certain elements over time do really prove their utility and are improved upon through countless attempts of reiterating pipelines or products. Blockchain technology can give anyone a platform, regardless of their banking status — it would be a nice sign to see more establishing choices to make provisions for crypto payments for those who genuinely lack other options.

Of course, cryptocurrencies have had their fair share of challenges regarding regulations and compliance, and these certainly should be taken well into consideration before the masses become more “cypherpunk.” But it’s safe to say that taking a page out of Vitalik’s book might make a lot of sense, as it’s we, “the users,” that can and will shape not just the technology, but the experiences that come with it. 

In doing so, hopefully a lot more of us can soon come to enjoy a crypto burger of our own.

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