The NFT restaurant phenomenon will soon be coming to Miami. Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, known to most as Chef Bee, is best known for his Miami restaurant Oishi Thai, which opened in 2005. This year, however, he'll hold a unique title: the chef behind Miami's first NFT restaurant, Piya.
Later this year, Arreeratn will launch Piya — short for his given name Piyarat — alongside Canadian businessman Simon Librati.
NFTs (short for non-fungible tokens) are digital image files that can be sold and traded. When you buy an NFT, you own a piece of something stored in a blockchain, the database that encrypts and authenticates all NFTs. It's a unique form of digital ownership.
A location for Piya has not been confirmed, but Librati says the restaurant will offer three distinct venues in one. The space will include a Thai-inspired restaurant curated by Chef Bee, a private omakase dining room, and a fast-casual area where NFT holders will have access to private events.
"The idea is to create a space where members can come to learn about NFTs, crypto trading, and these various new markets," Librati tells New Times.
In recent months, a growing number of restaurateurs and food companies — including well-known brands like Chipotle and Budweiser — have been experimenting with NFT technology. The idea: Create unique marketing campaigns, raise capital, or provide members-only experiences for a growing tech-savvy community.
Take VCR Group-founded Flyfish Club, which announced in January that it will use NFTs to create an exclusive clientele. The luxury dining club is set to open in 2023, available only to members who hold the Flyfish NFT.
Others, like Los Angeles-based Original Burger Boy, are using NFT sales to help finance startup goals. A portion of that funding will be used to create special pop-up events available only to the establishment's NFT owners.
In Miami, Piya will offer its own take on the private experience, Librati explains.
The Piya NFT will grant token holders access to the Miami venue. It will also offer members a number of real-life perks that include members-only-access educational seminars, events, and meet-and-greets. Token holders, however, are not buying "shares" of the restaurant.
"Anyone can find investment and open a restaurant, but not everyone can provide the type of experience we're planning," Librati explains. "With Piya, you'll become a member of a very specific community. We expect a lot of the interest in this project will be artists, musicians, and celebrities, but also anyone who wants to learn more about NFT and cryptocurrency."
"We also hope to see this bring a whole new realm of dining and socializing to Miami," adds Arreeratn.
Unlike most NFTs, Piya tokens won't require a crypto wallet to purchase.
While Flyfish members were required to purchase the brand's digital tokens from OpenSea using Ethereum cryptocurrency, Piya will make accessing the new technology much easier, adds Librati, who is working with both FanVerse and Cere Network to mint, sell, and promote Piya's exclusive NFT.
According to Cere Network co-founder Kenzi Wang, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former venture capitalist, Cere's technology will allow Piya to create, maintain, mint, sell, and host its NFTs using its all-in-one Cere Freeport platform.
"That means that when the NFT launches, customers can simply go to the Piya website and buy it with a credit card," Wang explains. "There's no need to hold or use Ethereum or Bitcoin."
Each Piya NFT will be unique to its owner and can be traded or sold. Anyone who holds the NFT can also book dining reservations for guests.
"The NFT won't be expensive in comparison to other well-known members-only restaurant fees," adds Librati. "We're at the stage where we want to launch and have as many people that want to come to the restaurant as possible — people who want to learn and socialize."
In the coming weeks, a limited number of tokens will be sold online at piyamiami.com via an auction-style launch, says Librati, with a goal of raising between $5 to $7 million for the space. At the time of posting, an opening sale price had not been determined.
"The idea of the NFT restaurant is something I think we'll see more of this year. People are using them not as a collectible item but to build a community in the form of a membership. With our application through Piya, it really covers all the bases of where this technology is moving," Wang sums up. "This project is very timely, and I think this is going to be a very good thing — not just for Miami — but also the NFT community."
Librati, the former co-chairman and CEO of New York-based World Trade Financial Group, purchased DJ Khaled's Aventura mansion in 2020 for $4.8 million and sold a waterfront Miami Beach property for $8.2 million in 2021. In 2018, he consented to a two-year ban from the U.S. brokerage industry, according to the Wall Street Journal, which referred to him in a headline as "a czar of overseas day trading."