Menches Bros. CEO John Menches and his niece Dani Kimble, who led the restaurant’s NFT project. / Photo courtesy of Menches Bros.
Menches Bros. is a small restaurant with a big claim to food history.
The three-unit burger concept in northeast Ohio is owned and operated by descendants of brothers Charles and Frank Menches, dealers who allegedly invented a version of the burger at a New York County Fair in 1885.
The Menches invented their concoction – ground beef mixed with brewed coffee and brown sugar – after running out of pork for their sausage sandwiches, marking the arc of American consumption.
Nearly 140 years later, their family is looking to spread this story and the restaurant it inspired around the world, but not in the traditional way.
“We really wanted to go global without necessarily franchising the restaurant,” said Dani Kimble, a marketing professional and great-great-granddaughter of Charles Menches. “We always wanted to keep this family connection with the brand.”
That’s why Menches Bros. announced this week that it will begin selling non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, digital images that can be bought and sold online as collectibles and are tied to the emerging world of cryptocurrency and trading. metaverse. Menches Bros. hopes the new technology will allow him to build an audience without actually building restaurants.
What restaurants need to know about the Metaverse.
Burger fans near and far can choose from 5,655 Lil Mench NFTs, which depict a variety of 1920s-style cartoon burgers designed by artist William Rech. Menches Bros. reserves 1,855 NFTs for local customers, who can use them to get a 20% discount for a year when dining out.
NFTs also grant access to a secret “Cryptoburger” menu for customers as well as tailgate parties, prizes, and the secret Menches spice blend, allowing owners to prepare the original Menches burger at home.
The idea is to attract burger lovers by emphasizing the restaurant’s authentic connection to the fast food staple, creating a community of fans.
“[Charles and Frank’s] the story is amazing, and everybody loves cheeseburgers or burgers,” Kimble said. “I think there’s a huge opportunity to build some sort of global audience around this.”
It is unusual for a family restaurant like Menches Bros. to enter the still new field of NFTs. Large chains with large marketing budgets, such as Domino’s, White Castle and Applebee’s, have used them to advertise or provide customer perks. At Menches, Kimble was the one-woman force behind the idea, and it took some effort to get everyone up to speed.
She started by partnering with a company called Metaversal, which would later go on to help Menches Bros. to create and sell their NFTs. But his first job was to pitch the concept to Kimble’s family, including his uncle, Menches Bros. CEO John Menches. “He’s visionary, he’s very enterprising,” Kimble said, and he finally gave Lil Mench the green light.
Educating guests about the project is the next big step. Kimble admitted that most Menches Bros. don’t know what NFTs are, let alone have the technological means to buy one: Lil Mench is only available on the Ethereum blockchain, a platform that processes and records cryptocurrency transactions.
“Our day-to-day local customers, this is all very, very new to them,” Kimble said.
The restaurant is working on ways to make NFTs as accessible as possible. He describes Lil Mench as a membership program or digital pass and plans a local “mint party” where guests can learn how to buy one. It also hopes to allow customers to pay for NFTs with a credit card instead of crypto.
“We want the barrier to entry to be as low as possible so that we don’t confuse them and deter them,” Kimble said.
The price of a Lil Mench is still to be determined. Menches Bros. researches its regular customers to determine the right price, ideally one that would allow shoppers to get their money back by dining out two or three times a month at a 20% discount.
“We want to make it easy for them to buy an NFT,” Kimble said.
On that note, Kimble is undeterred by the recent cryptocurrency market implosion, which may also affect the value of NFTs. The price of Ether, the coin used to buy NFTs on the Etherium blockchain, has plunged nearly 45% over the past month.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s holding us back,” she said. “We are here for the long term. We are not here to do any type of cash grab.
And while Menches Bros. should make revenue from the sale of NFT, its top priority is to spread its story and grow its audience. He doesn’t plan to leverage this awareness to help him open any new restaurants, but it could open up other opportunities for growth. Kimble mentioned the idea of combining NFTs with a Menches spice blend licensing deal that would allow other restaurants to serve his signature burger. And she hasn’t ruled out the possibility of launching a Menches Bros. virtual restaurant. in the metaverse.
The possibilities offered by these new technologies are endless, she said. “Major franchises are starting to think about a metaverse strategy. And U.S. too.
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