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Picture: Luxuo

Trend description Restaurant chains are being forced to rewrite the playbook to meet the needs of the younger tech-driven customer. In addition, food brands must explore how they can immerse their brand into the metaverse to connect with the younger generation. Food brands are now looking into how to use the uniqueness of the NFTs to provide value to engage customers.


Trend drivers


74% of people think that the metaverse will impact food and drink products, and 76% think restaurants and bars will be affected by the metaverse, according to Wunderman Thompson. 


The disruption of traditional dynamics between institutions and individuals has been years in the making. In the consumer sphere, the epic power shift spurred by the sharing economy has intersected with smart mechanisms like blockchain technology to make it easier than ever before for consumers to become producers. And most of the human experience has been limited by the realities of the physical world. But now billions of people spend many of their waking hours immersed in augmented realities.


According to the study, The Digital Divide: The Move to The Metaverse, data shows that younger consumers are more engaged in the metaverse and curious about the future that it brings. The study found that 40% of Gen Z and Millennials have reported a significant level of interest in the metaverse. Furthermore, 54% of the participants are interested in seeing restaurants integrated into the metaverse. 


Restaurant chains are being forced to rewrite the playbook to meet the needs of the younger tech-driven customer. In addition, food brands must explore how they can immerse their brand into the metaverse to connect with the younger generations. Research from the latest edition of PYMNTS' Restaurant Readiness Index finds that connecting with the younger generation is the main reason for investing in initiatives in the metaverse. Food and drink brands are experimenting with new ways of experiencing food that blends the physical world with the digital world and are looking into ways new channels can engage with the younger generation. 


Gen Z are proponents for co-creator culture, which allows blockchain technology to emerge. Furthermore, with Gen Z being digital natives and therefore comfortable in a virtual world, this generation will be more open to new technology. NFTs can act as a way of showcasing their digital identity. Therefore, consumers can use NFTs to express their identity through the NFTs they collect. With Gen Z's need for a global community and being hyper-connected, NFTs can be used for community-building. With Gen Z witnessing the traumas that the Internet has led to, they have responded with a need to balance wealth and power to make the world a better place. Blockchain technology can reflect this balance and therefore is attractive to younger consumers.


NFT dining clubs


A NFT or non-fungible token is a cryptographic asset on a blockchain with a unique code that distinguishes it from others. Unlike bitcoins, NFTs can't be traded or exchanged equivalently. It means that every NFT is unique and cannot be replicated. It is the uniqueness of an NFT that provides its value. NFTs are being explored across various industries used to transfer ownership over everything from art, music, fashion, video and audio. Food brands are now looking into how to use the uniqueness of the NFTs to provide value and engage customers.


Flyfish Club (FFC) is the world's first members-only private dining's club where membership is purchased as an NFT. The venture is slated to open in New York City in 2023. The only way to gain membership is by buying the NFT owned by FFC to gain access to their restaurant. Members will have access to a private dining room, cocktail lounge, upscale restaurant, intimate omakase room, and outdoor space in NYC. Memberships can be purchased at Open Sea, the world's first and largest NFT marketplace. The demand for the club is high due to its use of NFT as a marketing strategy. The FFC pre-opening membership NFTs have already sold out, generating £2 million for the owners through selling 3,035 NFTs to 1,038 members. This concept, created by the VCR group Gary Vaynerchuk, David Rodolitz, Josh Capon, and Conor Hanlon, can be replicated in other industries and businesses. 


Crypto Pintxos is a project between tech futurists and food enthusiasts, LABe Digital Gastronomy Lab, and Speculative Future Tel Aviv. The project aims to connect the world of gastronomy and blockchain by delivering a digital dining experience that tests and builds C. Each of the 400 Crypto Pintxos that consumers buy is a unique recipe with a pixelated representation of the ingredients. Attendees will have the chance to vote on ten plates through pintxos on Opensea, which will become part of a real-life dinner on 18 July at the Basque Culinary Center's restaurants.


Picture: Fly Fish Club


Picture: Fly Fish Club

NFT subscription models


Until recently, NFT has been chiefly used to provide people with digital value, such as digital art and files. However, businesses have now come across a new opportunity to explore how an NFT and physical assets can play together. Therefore, the market potential of NFT goes beyond the value of an investment and can have a functional use. NFT's can be used by brands to provide customers with membership and loyalty cards. The uniqueness of the NFT makes it valuable for both the customer and the company to ensure that all memberships are unique and can't be replicated. It provides opportunities for wellness membership clubs or wellness and beauty subscription models to explore a new innovative way of dealing with membership and loyalty cards.


Bored Breakfast club is the first project to do a subscription service, generating physical and digital value for its members. "We're completely rethinking how subscription models have traditionally operated by offering coffee lovers the opportunity to join in on a membership that provides real-world utility and access to a digital coffee community", Brad Klemmer, Co-founder of the agency behind Bored Breakfast Club says. 


Bored Breakfast Club and Yes PLZ partnered to create the first NFT coffee subscription business. Bored breakfast club is a collection of NFT breakfast scenes living on the Ethereum blockchain. Yez Plz is a craft-roasted coffee subscription giving members free coffee shipped to their doors. They have previously been announced as New York Times' best coffee subscription and roast their coffee in Los Angeles.


Each breakfast NFTs unlocks access to freshly roasted coffee from Yes Plz on an ongoing basis. Board Breakfast Club members can claim one bag of coffee every coffee release, about every five weeks. Furthermore, Bored Breakfast Club members will receive an exclusive roast with every shipment. The members will have access to live events, digital content, and discounts to provide customers with extra benefits.


NFT is still an emerging new area but has excellent potential to help industry professionals connect with their customers differently and increase their brand awareness. NFT opportunities in the wellness industry can vary from replacing the way of booking spa retreats or selling NFTs in partnership with artists or selling loyalty-membership cards as an NFT.


Picture: Bored Breakfast Club

Picture: OVR Technology


Picture: Bored Breakfast Club

Virtual restaurants

Social media's influence on food and drink trends is crossing into the real world. Restaurants no longer require dining spaces, waiters, or expensive furniture. Virtual restaurant concepts offer a delivery-only dining experience. This is, in most cases, managed through digital applications or platforms.

Virtual restaurants are commercial food businesses with concepts that are exclusively available online. Since the pandemic, the trend of virtual restaurants has been taking off. Virtual restaurants have skyrocketed in numbers during COVID-19, with having food delivered to your home as a safer and more comfortable solution.


According to Michael Schaefer, global lead for food and beverage at Euromonitor International, it's estimated that virtual restaurant brands will become a $1 trillion industry by 2030 and is expected to expand tenfold.

Restaurants are becoming more tech-savvy in order to adapt to today's consumers and restaurants of all sizes have joined the delivery industry. With 75% of restaurant operators considering takeout as their best growth opportunity, according to PYMTS, virtual restaurants have emerged. By not having full-service restaurants with dining rooms and a storefront, restaurants can have cheaper real estate, open multiple locations, and minimize their financial cost, making them attractive investments. Therefore, the virtual restaurant can be a cost-efficient business model. 

The Virtual Restaurant trend, intended to reduce the operating costs of the food business, is one of the most modern-time emerging food trends. The concept of virtual restaurants is still evolving while restaurants are recovering from COVID-19. The growth of delivery apps, a market expected to expand to more than $24.46 billion by 2023 in the US, has been a key driver in the emerging virtual restaurant trend.

With significant changes in consumer behavior amongst Gen Z and the routine of ordering food online, it is no surprise that there has been a demand for this concept. TikTok's influence on food and drink trends is crossing over into the real world, inspiring new products. The popular platform TikTok, which has over 130 million users a month, has announced a collaboration with Virtual Dining Concept to do a delivery-based food service chain called TikTok Kitchens. TikTok is serving a virtual dining concept based on its most viral food hits, launching in March 2022. Therefore, the menu will include the most popular meals on the platform, including feta pasta, burgers, and corn ribs. 

TikTok Kitchen is expected to launch at 300 locations. It will operate out of popular chain restaurants that join the ghost kitchen trend, such as Bertucci's and Buca di Beppo. #FoodTok is all the food-related content posted on TikTok, with videos ranking over 11.5 billion views, showing experimental recipes and cooking hacks. Customers can make orders for TikTok Kitchen through the app Grub hub. Restaurants can apply to market partners and host food preparations for the TikTok Kitchen orders.

Furthermore, food brands are getting involved in the metaverse, experiencing the concept of metaverse restaurants. McDonald's has filed 10 trademarks covering Mcdonald's and McCafé. One of the trademarks would allow it to open a virtual restaurant online, delivering food to consumers' homes. Another of the trademarks was for virtual food and beverage products, including NFTs. McDonald's is protecting their restaurant's concept in the metaverse to sell virtual and real-world food.

Trademark lawyer Josh Gerben tweeted: "You are hanging out in the metaverse and get hungry. You don't have to put down your headset. You walk into a McDonald's and place an order. It arrives at your door a little while later. The same month the cafe chain Panera Bread filed a trademark application for the "Paneraverse" to protect its restaurant and café space in the metaverse.


Picture: TikTok Kitchen


Picture: McDonald's


Picture: McDonald's

Action Steps





Consider how food brands can use the uniqueness of the NFT to create a subscription or membership model.

Consider how virtual restaurant concepts can quickly adapt to new social media trends and meet the needs of Gen Z. 

Think about how to combine a real life dining experience with a digital experience.

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