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- Bored and Hungry is a new Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT-themed smash burger concept in California.
- On opening day, the restaurant saw around 1,500 customers and lines down the block.
- I visited the fast food joint in early May and found the burgers delicious but the excessive use of Apes kitschy.
The Bored Ape NFTs you’ve been seeing all over Twitter and Instagram have finally entered the physical world in the form of a fast-food joint located in Southern California.
In April, California-based restaurateur Andy Nguyen opened Bored and Hungry, a smash burger concept in Long Beach, California with a Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) flair.
I visited the one-of-a-kind concept on an early Tuesday afternoon in May.
While Bored and Hungry’s saucy smash burger and seasoned fries were simply scrumptious, the unbridled Bored and Mutant Ape theme felt kitschy. And I’m still not convinced NFTs are the only way forward for restaurants.
If it weren’t for the Ape branding, Bored and Hungry would’ve been your everyday smash burger stand.
Although my takeaways are cynical, it was still cool seeing the garish but wildly popular BAYC NFTs come to life, and I look forward to seeing how other creative entrepreneurs plan on bringing digital art to life.
The store was once a Southern fried chicken spot that was about to become a Beleaf vegan burger location before Nguyen and his team turned the space into a BAYC wonderland.
In theory, Bored and Hungry is nothing more than a burger shop that has strong branding and accepts crypto.
But the Ape branding alone is enough to draw in thousands of hungry NFT enthusiasts.
If you’ve been offline, let me catch you up to speed. BAYC is a collection of 10,000 unique digital ape artworks. It’s currently one of the world’s most popular NFT collections, passing over $1 billion in total sales in January.
Source: Morning Brew
When Bored and Hungry first opened its doors on April 9, about 1,500 customers showed up, creating a line that wrapped down the block, Nguyen told Insider.
There were even international and out-of-state visitors, including people from Miami and Brazil.
And more recently the pop-up saw patrons from Norway, who told Nguyen they “had to be there,” he recounted to Insider.
“This is part of history,” the international visitors told the mastermind behind Bored and Hungry. “No one’s done this before.”
Since opening day, the fast food pop-up has been busy daily, according to Nguyen.
The branding is strong but many of its customers know nothing about NFTs. Instead. they’re intrigued by the large cartoonish vinyl Apes, loud music, and flashy interior.
At first, Bored and Hungry was designed to be a 90-day pop-up.
But following the overwhelming interest and business, the team has decided to make Bored and Hungry a permanent establishment.
And it could begin expanding: The brand has received inquiries to open more locations around the world and could consider going the franchise route, Nguyen told Insider.
The successful restaurateur has a track record of launching popular and Instagram-able concepts, from dessert shops to cafes to a food hall-friendly seafood stand.
But before Bored and Hungry, Nguyen wasn’t well versed in NFTs.
Before the burger concept, “I was looking forward to my next five years [in the restaurant industry], I was like ‘I can’t picture myself continuing on in this industry. I need to do something different,'” Nguyen said.
That’s when his friends began pitching the idea of integrating NFTs into the restaurant business.
With this investment came full commercial rights to use the Ape images, which is what you see on Bored and Hungry’s packaging and around its store.
Unsurprisingly, cryptocurrency plays a pivotal part in the payment system.
Yes, you can pay with a regular old credit card (sorry, no cash allowed).
But the fast-food joint says it’s the world’s first restaurant to accept Apecoin — the cryptocurrency made by the creators of BAYC, Yuga Labs — as well as Ethereum.
It can also check patrons’ crypto wallets for Apecoin or a Bored Ape, Mutant Ape, or Bored Ape Kennel Club NFT …
… which will give customers additional perks, like free combos for people who own a Bored Ape or burgers for Mutant owners.
To my pleasant surprise, the fast-food joint was empty when I visited on an early Tuesday afternoon, a treat for my hungry impatience.
But I wouldn’t have minded a long wait: Bored and Hungry is an Ape wonderland that’ll make the wait time feel occupied.
The establishment is easy to spot. The Ape decals catch your eyes from outside of the restaurant.
Unlike many physical NFT galleries, there are no high-resolution screens that display the Bored and Mutant Apes.
Instead, the NFTs are integrated into the store’s decor and branding. And there’s no escaping Nguyen’s Bored or Mutant Apes once you’re inside.
Everywhere you look, there’s a reminder of the cartoonish digital art …
… from the Bored and Mutant ape cutouts …
… to the wall art of a “F.U.D. [fear, uncertainty, and doubt] III Destroyer” arcade game that only accepts Apecoin …
… to the unmissable vinyl decals on the windows …
… and the bright green floor proudly flashing more ape imagery.
As Nguyen describes it, Bored and Hungry is a photo-friendly experience.
Even the food packaging was emblazoned with the inescapable ape imagery.
Bored and Hungry’s smash burgers are the products of two brands: Trill Burgers and Beleaf Burgers, the latter a vegan concept.
One option comes with diced grilled onions, while the other has sliced grilled onions.
I settled on the diced grilled onion option, the Bored OG, as a combo. And because the store was empty, I only had to wait a few minutes for my order.
In case anyone was wondering, I paid with a credit card.
I don’t own any Apes but I am a sort of smash burger enthusiast.
My standards are high, but I was surprised by my Bored OG burger combo order. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been.
The smash burger wasn’t created specifically for this store. Trill Burgers existed well before Bored and Hungry ever became a concept, which means the burgers have already been tested and approved by the public.
“I come from the restaurant industry so I had to make sure we put out a good burger and not just be a novelty item with a cool box,” Nguyen said, although the box is definitely unique.
And it’s nice to see fast food concepts with plant-based options, like this Beleaf Mutant OG burger shown below.
The Bored OG burger comes with a toasted bun, two smash patties, cheese, a thousand island sauce, pickles, and diced grilled onions.
Think of the Bored OG as a distant smash burger cousin of In-N-Out’s classic cheeseburger.
The messy thousand island sauce added some necessary tangy sweetness to contrast the saltier meat and cheese …
… while the crinkle-cut pickles cut the heavy thousand island dressing and grilled onions.
It was a good burger. I have no complaints, and I was already feeling full before I could finish my burger.
The fries were equally good and seasoned to perfection. I didn’t find myself missing any condiments or salt packets (I was also too lazy to walk to the ketchup packets).
But you won’t be getting In-N-Out prices at Bored and Hungry.
One Beleaf Mutant OG burger will set you back $15.50 …
… while its meat-based counterpart is $13.
The Bored OG combo — a burger, fries, and soda — rings in at $15.
These prices are definitely higher than chain fast food joints like McDonald’s, but you’re paying for a great burger, pretty decent fries, and the absolute honor of eating out of Bored Ape packaging.
At the end of the day, the burgers are good and the branding is kitschy.
Do I think NFTs are somehow the only viable future of the restaurant industry? Honestly, no.
And would I pay $15 for a burger combo from Bored and Hungry again? Probably not.
Other than the prominent Ape decor, nothing about Bored and Hungry felt new or innovative, especially because I didn’t pay with crypto.
But was the Bored Ape concept brought to life through large cutouts and a branded fast-food restaurant still creative? Yes.
And I look forward to seeing how more entrepreneurs, restaurant groups, and creatives plan on bridging the gap between the physical and digital world.
“This is the project for the people that are skeptical,” Nguyen said. “Everyone likes to call it a JPEG. Well, I took this JPEG that I own and I’m creating a brand and business out of it. It’s doing more than just a picture on my profile.”