Web3 has reached the burger joint.
A new community called BurgerDAO wants to create a decentralized burger franchise. According to the announcement, the group is looking to create a ghost kitchen burger chain with funding derived from the sale of tokens for the organization via Juicebox.
Owners of BurgerDAO tokens would have a say in the operational structure as well in things such as menu creation. The group also plans to use funding from token sales to eventually hire an operational staff (and likely pay service fees to a ghost kitchen company). According to the group, the operation’s profits would go back into the treasury, which would result in appreciation in the value of the tokens.
The group lays out three overall milestones for their Web3 burger franchise, the first one being the launch of the first virtual BurgerDAO restaurant location. The group puts the cost of reaching this milestone at upwards of $1 million and details four specific deliverables for getting to this first milestone: finding a ghost kitchen partner, deliver-apps integration, branding, and menu creation, and the launch of an NFT for BurgerDAO contributors.
If you think a million bucks sounds like a lot to get a virtual restaurant off the ground, you’re right, but the group explains they may not need all of it:
Will it actually cost $1M? Probably not. But we know opening a restaurant is tough (see above) even with the advent of cloud kitchens. While the DAO will help us make decisions, we will be the ones working with the cloud kitchen, testing ingredients, pay for marketing tests, and other administrative expenses. Opening a basic deli or pizza joint (brick and mortar location) costs between $200-$500K depending on the location just to give you a frame of reference.
From there, the group lays out plans for further expansion of their decentralized ghost kitchen burger franchise, which includes the eventual opening of a brick and mortar location in a specific city and hiring a full-time staff.
On the one hand, the idea of a decentralized burger franchise is interesting, but I suspect it won’t be easy to pull off. In explaining the motivation for the concept, the group points to the inspiration of MrBeast Burger and companies like Virtual Dining Concepts (the virtual restaurant startup which is operationalizing MrBeast) but then asks why a MrBeast or VDC should take home all the profits? The group then explains much of their initial costs will be in finding and working with a kitchen operator (this type of work is what VDC does for the MrBeast Burger franchise and its other virtual restaurant concepts).
In other words, BurgerDAO is against the idea of centralized management and gatekeepers, but will likely need to find a group that has relationships with kitchen operators or build a relationship with and pay a for-profit ghost kitchen operator themselves.
They also haven’t answered the biggest challenge for virtual restaurants: brand building. The most successful virtual restaurants have been able to leverage an influencer’s reach, or they’ve been ones that have already tapped into the existing successful restaurant brand like Wowbao. While companies like NextBite have been able to spin up completely new virtual brands and get broad reach across several markets, they’ve had lots of venture capital to fund the brand-building for their concepts.
All that said, while the group has a big hill to climb, I’m interested to see if they can pull off their web3 burger concept. BurgerDAO is part of a broader movement in the restaurant and food space away from traditional operating models, which includes the move towards automation-powered centralized food production, the move away from physical front-of-house dine-in, and now the embrace of web3 and metaverse-powered digital concepts.
If you’d like to learn more, attend The Spoon’s Metaverse/NFT virtual mini-event on February 1st (Hurry, the first 400 tickets are free!).