Emerging ConceptsInternet of Things

What Is the Metaverse and How Will it Affect Your Restaurant?

Many of you probably do not remember a time before the internet or when people had to find a phone booth when they needed to make a call while on the road. Come to think of it, many of you probably don’t even know what a phone booth is. Remarkable. 

Keep those thoughts in mind as we discuss the next topic. You may think the Metaverse is an imaginary world with no bearing on your profits or customer engagement. Think again.

The Metaverse is the internet on steroids. It’s a place where we use virtual and augmented reality to interact with our environment using digital technology and persistent avatars. The avatar is your 3D alter-ego, your identity in virtual space, and companies are developing avatars that act as your persistent identity across multiple virtual worlds as you explore and interact. 

Like many novels that cast a glimpse into our future, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash first described the Metaverse in 1992. Then, in 2021, Facebook rebranded itself as “Meta,” internet searches for “metaverse” exploded, and an obsession was born. 

This immersive experience is here to stay and will surely change our interactions in our everyday world.

The Metaverse and Restaurants

A recent survey of almost 2,500 consumers by Paytronix and PYMNTS focused on technological integrations within the restaurant industry. It found that 20% were familiar with the Metaverse, and 34% of Millennials had participated in the virtual world. Additionally, 38% who had already entered the digital domain would be willing to make restaurant purchases in this environment. Interesting.

So, how are restaurants using the Metaverse to their advantage?

Not surprisingly, the virtual king, Chipotle, has already opened a virtual restaurant on Roblox. Chipotle Burrito Builder allows players to roll burritos in the Metaverse to earn Burrito Bucks and exchange them for an entrée code used on the Chipotle app. It marks the first time a brand enabled players to earn and exchange a Roblox experience for real-world items.

Wendy’s has also entered the fray, launching Wendyverse, a virtual restaurant on Horizon Worlds. In addition, Restaurant Technology News reported that the VCR group is working on a non-fungible token (NFT) restaurant that offers customers access through the use of these digital membership tokens. They can be purchased in the digital world and then used at the Flyfish restaurant in the “real” world.

Taking it to the next level is Sublimotion, an imaginative establishment offering high-end Mediterranean cuisine in an immersive VR-generated world on the Spanish island of Ibiza. Here, you can enjoy the finest food in a virtual universe, thanks to double Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero and fellow architects, designers, engineers, illusionists, screenwriters, and composers. The diners, at times, wear a virtual reality headset as they enjoy a 3-hour banquet and 20-course tasting menu while exploring virtual lands, from the bottom of the ocean to dinner with friends in 2050. The cost? A little over $1,500 per person.

Other restaurants jumping on the Metaverse bandwagon include McDonald’s, Applebee’s, Panera Bread, Wingstop, Chuck E. Cheese, Chick-fil-A, Hooters, Bareburger, and Yum Brands.

Opportunities in the Metaverse

In addition to expanding your brand’s footprint and awareness, restaurants can set up their digital version in such a way as to allow virtual customers to sign up for their loyalty programs. They can also offer unique dining experiences or the ability to purchase meals using NFTs. Avatars can even make a reservation or place an online order in the Metaverse and have it translated to the real world. 

I know, somewhat confusing for those of us who are not so digitally inclined. Not all of us will make a name for our brand in the digital world, but for those that do, the digital frontier offers new and exciting opportunities.

FAQS  

What is a Metaverse restaurant?

An avatar lives a virtual life in the Metaverse. This includes shopping, working, and eating. Real-world restaurant brands are establishing themselves in this digital world as the place to go for a bite or play a game. This experience in the virtual world can then translate to action in our physical world, driving purchases and brand awareness through the Metaverse.

Can we eat in the Metaverse?

No, people can’t, yet, eat food in the digital world. They can, however, order food that’s then delivered in the physical world. OneRare is working with chefs, restaurants, and popular cooking shows to mint NFTs for their dishes. Avatars can visit a virtual restaurant that offers signature celebrity chef dinners, shop at a virtual farmers market, and even make donations to a community fridge, all of which impact real life.

Can you taste in the Metaverse?

At the end of 2021, a Japanese professor, Homei Miyashita, developed Taste the TV (TTTV), a prototype for a TV screen with a disposable hygienic film that, when licked, imitates food flavors. Likewise, Vocktail is a virtual cocktail that tricks the senses and mimics flavors. So, the answer to whether we can taste food and drinks in the Metaverse is “someday.”

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