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Menches Bros. restaurant, named for the brothers who lay claim to inventing the hamburger, is introducing a line of NFTs – unique digital pieces that also will offer menu discounts for diners.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – A classic American staple is entering the digital world: NFTs are being issued for Menches Bros.
“We’ve always been early adopters,” said Dani Kimble, chief marketing officer of the restaurant that has locations in Green, Canton and Massillon.
Kimble is the great-great granddaughter of Charles Menches. He and his brother Frank are two of several people who can lay claim to the hamburger’s invention. To the brothers’ credit, the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg, New York, says the brothers invented the ground-beef burger in 1885 at the Erie County Fair. A pork shortage had left them with a sandwich to sell, and they quickly improvised. (Many accounts also attribute the invention of the ice-cream cone to the brothers several years later.)
The brothers lived in Northeast Ohio, and Kimble is helping lead the way to building on the burger-origin story.
“It’s ‘How do we take this story?’ she said. “We have this amazing local restaurant. Our restaurants have been serving burgers for nearly 30 years. How do we expand from global to local without franchising the restaurant? How do we give people around the world a taste of history?”
To that point, Menches can ship its seasoning blend mix to anyone to make the hamburgers. But it also is giving the burgers a modern and technological spin.
The company is launching 5,655 different “lil Mench” NFTs. Non-fungible tokens are unique digital works with data kept in a blockchain – in this case, the etherium blockchain. A blockchain is a digital database storage format.
“I always say it’s flippin’ burgers on the blockchain,” Kimble said.
Each NFT has different “rarities” – traits that set them apart. One might have a character wearing different shoes, another holds a basketball or an ice-cream cone.
“They will all be very different,” she said.
The bowler-and-top-hat-wearing brothers could not have foreseen the technology when they were grilling burgers or creating ice-cream cones more than a century ago. Now, their likenesses will be preserved in digital wallets.
John Menches, chief executive officer of Menches Bros., is the great-grandson of Charles Menches. Chief marketing officer Dani Kimble is Charles’ great-great-granddaughter. (Love What I Do Photography)
Each NFT will be a graphic of a burger tied to a utility that includes a digital access pass, she said. That pass is a rewards program similar to ones featured in many eateries or coffee shops.
“It acts similar to that, except it is recorded on the blockchain so there is ownership – not just the artwork … but it comes with 20% off regular menu-priced items when you dine at any of our Menches for one full year,” Kimble said.
It also grants private access to a “crypto burger menu,” where diners with Menches NFTs can order items not on the regular menu. And there’s also a chance to enter to win prizes like grills, sporting tickets and more.
Menches partnered with Metaversal, an investment firm that co-creates and co-produces NFTs, and South African artist William Rech.
The NFTs mint digitally in July, but people can get on a local priority list that has 1,885 available spots (remember the year the brothers grilled up burgers?). Customers can go to the restaurant, scan a QR code and leave an email address. They will be notified of the mint date and can log on to buy their “burger.”
For folks in Northeast Ohio, the NFT price is $120. People also can sign up online or via Twitter.
This month, Menches will roll its food truck out at the NYC.NFT conference in Times Square and serve free burgers. For anyone who signs up there or anywhere outside of Northeast Ohio, the mint-price point will be about $200, Kimble said.
A portion of proceeds from the primary sales of the lil Mench NFT project will be donated to fight hunger within Northeast Ohio.
Sports leagues like the NBA and teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers have entered the NFT market, but it’s rare to see a restaurant – especially a mom-and-pop-type place – embracing the digital tokens. A similar concept is being planned for the Flyfish Club in New York City. The planned restaurant will feature a cocktail lounge, upscale dining area, intimate chef-driven omakase room and an outdoor space. Entrance to the restaurant is being reserved only for its NFT holders.
Kimble is armed with a traditional, innovative American business story and a futuristic vision.
“We don’t have a blueprint or framework to build from,” she said. “This is all new territory for us.”
Related coverage
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Cavaliers launching My Cavs Locker, a ‘digital shrine’ for NFTs
Cleveland Cavaliers launch NFT Collection, displaying digital art
I am on’s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. Twitter: @mbona30.
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