Thursday, October 22, 2020

Former patrons can’t drown sorrows as first-ever bar to accept Bitcoin closes

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A legendary bar and restaurant in Germany that was reportedly the first to ever accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment has permanently closed.

According to an Oct. 18 Reddit post from Joerg Platzer, founder of Room 77, the first brick-and-mortar business to accept Bitcoin (BTC) is no longer accepting customers and has shuttered its doors. In a goodbye message riddled with references to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Platzer said “thanks again for all the fish and the generous tips” after more than 15 years in business occupying “that little joint in Berlin Kreuzberg.”

“We had a great time,” said Platzer. “Having a lot of fun and making many friends. It is clear by now that nobody will stop Bitcoin anymore. Sound money on a global scale will soon make it unfeasable [sic] to wage wars and it will create economic equality amongst mankind.”

Room 77, “the restaurant at the end of capitalism” located in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, Germany, was reportedly the first brick-and-mortar location in the world to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Platzer claimed to have received the first crypto payment in May 2011 for a pint of beer.

Given that the average price of beer in Germany is roughly $4.10 and Bitcoin had just reached parity with the U.S. dollar at that time, the patron could have easily paid for their drink with more than 1 BTC — now priced at $11,432. That’s a high-quality beverage.

Source: Room 77

Crypto Twitter users were quick to jump on the news with their pilgrimage stories to the legendary Bitcoin bar. Cointelegraph reported that even Bitcoin educator Andreas Antonopoulos had turned local business owners onto crypto after a chance meeting in the bar.

“A visit to Berlin was never complete without stopping by Room 77,” said Bitcoin Core developer Eric Lombrozo. “This place will always remain part of Bitcoin history.”

Phil Lucsok shared memories of his first time spending crypto in the real world:

“When I first got some Bitcoin, I just wanted to spend it somewhere AFK. I got to Room 77 on an early spring afternoon in 2013 and ordered a coffee since I didn’t want beer or food, just wanted to spend some decentralized currency for the first time in my life.”

Platzer did not provide a specific reason for the closure, but former patrons are speculating it may be related to restrictions due to the pandemic. Last week, authorities announced a curfew requiring bars in Berlin to shut down between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM and restrict gatherings to no more than 25 people indoors. 

Though the ban was later lifted, many businesses worldwide are experiencing a drop in revenue as tourism drops and more people stay indoors.

“Blame it on COVID or blame it on gentrification,” said crypto economist Jon Matonis on Twitter. “Either way, this Kreuzberg landmark has served as a Bitcoin watering hole for over 10 years, with thousands making the obligatory pilgrimage.”

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