While the rest of the Bitcoin community was celebrating Bitcoin Friday by taking advantage of the large discounts made available by their favorite Bitcoin shops, Joerg Platzer of Room 77, a restaurant that has become the epicenter of the Bitcoin community in Berlin, used the date to announce Bitcoin Kiez, a project to get a large number of businesses to accept BTC in Berlin’s Graefekiez district.
Now, Bitcoin Kiez has announced its first three participants:
- Primo Maggio – as Rooom77′s Joerg Platzer describes it, “original Italian food at its best.” This restaurant features a wide variety of homemade sandwiches, antipasti, pasta and desserts, as well as a unique selection of drinks. It places a large emphasis on high-quality ingredients, writing on its website: “everyone who wants to share in our philosophy on good food are cordially invited to come to Primo Maggio on a journey of discovery. In our kitchen and our bar we allow only products which we stand behind. Our customers should only receive what we would take for ourselves, not only when we want to satisfy our hunger, but also our taste buds”.
- Fabelhaft Bar – features some of the best cocktails in Berlin. As one review describes it, “entering the one-room space is like stepping into a gothic castle crossed with an underground bordello, with requisite fin-de-siècle lamps and old candles softly glowing above funky mismatched chairs, each casting soft shadows against the mostly barren and crumbling stone walls. Mondays through Thursdays, unkempt barflies mix with artsy expats and laid-back locals to exchange jokes and talk politics over cold brews or fresh cocktails, including the popular Moscow Mule made with cucumber, vodka, ginger ale, and hand-ground ginger.”
- Vinyl Living Room Longplayer – a small and cozy used record store that is popular as a hangout spot for DJs even outside of Berlin. The shop features a large selection of hip-hop, funk, soul and jazz records and also some reggae, rock and punk, and many of the records that can be found there are difficult to find anywhere else. Although there is no food to buy here, it’s located on the Graefestraße almost right across the street from Room 77 itself.
This is only the beginning, and Room 77 owner Joerg Platzer is confident that there is more to come. Platzer wrote in a thread in the German Bitcointalk forum on the subject: “In the next few weeks the experiences of the participants in this public beta phase will be taken into account to further adapt and optimize the Bitcoin infrastructure. During this time more retail stores and restaurants will announce their acceptance of Bitcoin to the point that in December you will be able to go shopping for Christmas gifts and eat in many cafes and restaurants and pay for everything in Bitcoin. We are calling it ‘an alternative local currency with global reach.’”
If Platzer’s efforts succeed and a stable local Bitcoin community forms inside Berlin, it would be a major step forward for Bitcoin, as it would mark the first large-scale Bitcoin acceptance trial to take place in the physical world. Furthermore, in the eyes of the residents of the Graefekiez, Bitcoin would no longer simply be an abstract topic they may or may not have once heard of; rather, it would be very real, as they would see signs of stores accepting it and customers using it to pay for products and services every day. It would also be a great opportunity to see Bitcoin used in the real world by a non-technical audience, and would provide something very concrete to show to Bitcoin naysayers that the currency is now far more than just a speculative investment. And, most importantly of all, it would be a model for other cities to follow in Berlin’s footsteps.