Tahini’s, a Canadian restaurant chain, serves Middle East-inspired cuisine with a Bitcoin twist.
Since August 2020 (when Bitcoin was less than $20,000), the group has been operating on a Bitcoin standard. Any profits made are swept into Bitcoin.
Since then, the Tahini’s Twitter account has argued that Bitcoin was the “most Islamic” thing Muslims could do with their wealth. The group also educates its customers about sound money. It is now a popular bear market meme. Michael Saylor once said that he might apply for night shifts at Tahini’s during January’s price correction.
To stack more sats, you may apply for the night shift at @TheRealTahinis #NewProfilePic pic.twitter.com/ZrirLojvrq
Michael Saylor (@saylor), January 23, 2022
Cointelegraph spoke to Ali Hamam, cofounder and chief marketing officer at Tahini’s, in order to learn more about the whys, hows, and unintended consequences that come with operating under a Bitcoin standard. Hamam was at the forefront of Bitcoin adoption in the Middle East chain.
Hamam (top left), and the Bitcoin ATMs at Tahini’s franchises. Source: Twitter
Hamam was first exposed to Bitcoin in 2016, 2017 and he dismissed the idea as a Ponzi scheme or “rat poison” because he was dissuaded from its negative press. It was only after the COVID-19 pandemic, and its real-world effects, that Hamam’s Bitcoin lightbulb moment occurred.
“In March 2020, we were hit with fear and lockdowns. In a matter of a week, our sales at restaurants fell by 70%. Yet, more money was flowing to our employees and our fellow Canadians. Everyone had more money.
Robert Breedlove, a Bitcoin entrepreneur and influencer, inspired him to create a new form of money with BTC. Hamam stated that his company and he needed to find a better method to store value. He said that money is going to be in vain.
“It sort of clicked for me that this is a once-in-a-multigeneration type of breakthrough and invention. Absolute fixed money is a new concept that has never been seen before in history.
Hamam was addicted. Hamam was hooked. He devoured all things Bitcoin-related, including podcasts, and he didn’t sleep as he learned more.
It became a way of living that I felt comfortable with, from my children’s education to my business.
With newly acquired knowledge, Hamam met his business partners at Tahini’s and pitched the idea of running the company on a Bitcoin standard. The “Bitcoin Standard” is a term that Saifedean Ammous (author of The Bitcoin Standard) popularized. It is a more superior reserve currency than the U.S. Dollar and is therefore a better currency.
Saifedean Ammous, the author of “The Bitcoin Standard”, dines with Hamam. Source: Twitter
Therefore, it is important that the business has a plan with Bitcoin profits in mind. This means that Tahini should have a minimum of six months’ worth of expenses in order to keep her working capital. Haman says:
“Anything above that amount is considered treasury and we sweep into Bitcoin. We will buy more aggressively in the lower months, and then we will slow down in the later months. We will depend on how much the company makes.
Hamam stated that he tries to manage Bitcoin in a way that we never need to sell it. Hamam said that he has given BTC to his family and friends but never sold it.
Tahini’s is currently working to set up the infrastructure to accept Bitcoin payments. However, the process is difficult not because of regulation or payment processors but rather because the franchise wants to keep the Bitcoin it accepts. Hamam said, “Even though you accept Bitcoin, make sure you don’t have to sell it.”
Today, we met at Tahinis #HamOnt together with @shakepay & @Innocente_Brew as well as a group of amazing bitcoiners from across Canada. All of us share a common mission. To make #Bitcoin the Standard pic.twitter.com/nLhGlHojzd
— Tahinis Restaurants (@TheRealTahinis), June 2, 2022
Hamam stated that the inevitable publicity boost from joining the “Bitcoin Accepted Here” bandwagon is attractive. However, “If you sell your Bitcoin immediately after receiving it, then you don’t really get Bitcoin.”
Hamam mentioned Strike Lightning Network integration, which would eliminate Mastercard’s high fees. However, it is still too early to look into payment options, when growth is the priority.
Bitcoin is, ultimately, a savings tool in a developed country like Canada. Tahini’s does not plan to pay salaries in Bitcoin at the moment, because the franchise doesn’t want to force cryptocurrency onto its employees.
However, that hasn’t stopped Hamam, Canada’s Conservative leader candidate, Pierre Poilievre from buying shawarma using Bitcoin on the Lightning Network. It was the first Bitcoin transaction at Tahini’s, performed in an increasingly pro-Bitcoin politician.
Conservative leader candidate @PierrePoilievre purchases chicken shawarma using the bitcoin Lightning Network. The transaction cost was 1 satoshi. This is the amount that the consumer pays. This was Tahini’s first bitcoin purchase. pic.twitter.com/T5hVlY4fy0
— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) March 28, 2022
Hamam and the more ardent Bitcoiners in the management team raise personal questions like: “Have your heard of Bitcoin?” “Would you be interested in investing a few dollars in a Bitcoin retirement fund?”
The orange-pilling will always be more successful when the price drops. It’s more difficult to do so if the price is falling. Some Hamam’s management team “freaked out” a bit when China clamped down on crypto. Indeed, the 300% gains Cointelegraph reported earlier in the year are now slipping away.
Hamam stated that his conviction was sufficient to guide the ship and calm his coworkers’ nerves. A side of zealotry is required to run a restaurant that follows a Bitcoin standard. Hamam is a big fan of the most popular cryptocurrency, but there are also passionate BTC enthusiasts who support Tahini in her investment decision and offer support.
“The love I have for the Bitcoin community cannot be described. Our food is unknown to many people.
Related: KPMG Canada adds BTC to its treasury
Hamam stated that sales have not been affected by the Bitcoin community, even though it is a small, vocal community.
The business managed to stay afloat during the market turmoil of 2021 and plans to expand to more than 25 franchises by 2022. Hamam remains steadfast in his determination to invest the profits in Bitcoin, despite the turbulent economic environment.
“You will still be able to enjoy the same benefits that anyone else would, such as Michael Saylor or Elon Musk.”
The company “aligned itself to the mission of Bitcoin” and, of course “great food” for everyone. Hamam suggested that more companies might follow their example and adopt a Bitcoin standard. Hamam also joked that there may be a Middle Eastern recipe that takes inspiration from the cryptocurrency soon.
Eileen Wilson –Technology and Energy
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