The business of a Bitcoin standard: Profit, people and passion for good food


Tahini, a Canadian restaurant franchise, serves Middle East-inspired cuisine with a bitcoin-inspired twist.

Since August 2020, when the price of bitcoin (BTC) was below $20,000, the group has operated on the bitcoin standard, with any profits it flowing into BTC.


Tahini’s Twitter account has since argued that bitcoin is the “most Islamic” thing that Muslims can do with their money and group Educated Your customers sound money on. It has also become a niche bear market meme, with Michael Sayer famously stating that he may apply to work night shifts at Tahini during January’s price correction:

Cointelegraph spoke with Ali Hamam, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Tahini, to understand the reason, how and unintended consequences of operating under the bitcoin standard. Hamam was the driving force for bitcoin adoption in the Middle Eastern chain.

Hammam (top left) and bitcoin ATM at Tahini’s franchise. Source: Twitter

Hamam first learned about bitcoin in 2016 or 2017 but dismissed the innovation as a Ponzi scheme, or “rat poison”, because he was dismayed by its negative press. The COVID-19 pandemic and its real-world consequences for Hamam’s bitcoin lightbulb moment.

“In March of 2020, we were hit by the lockdown and fear. Our sales at restaurants fell like 70% in a week. And yet, more money was flowing in with our employees, our fellow Canadians. Everyone just had more money. ,

Inspired by the writings of Robert Breedlove – a bitcoin influencer and entrepreneur – sound money as BTC came to dominate him. Hamam said he and his company needed to find a better way to store value. “The money is going to be wasted,” he said.

“It kind of clicked for me that this is a once-in-a-lifetime multi-generational breakthrough and invention. The idea of ​​absolute fixed wealth is something we’ve never seen in history.”

Hamam was trapped. He went all in, eating bitcoin-focused books, podcasts and, in some cases, not sleeping as he educated himself and fell deeper down the rabbit hole.

“It evolved into a way of life where it’s like, well, it’s something that I should integrate with every aspect of my life, from funding my kids’ education to my business.”

With the newly acquired knowledge, Hamam, together with his business partners in Tahini, pitched the idea of ​​running a business on the bitcoin standard. The rationale behind having a “Bitcoin standard” – a term popularized by Saphedian Ammos, author of the book of the same name, bitcoin standard – Isn’t bitcoin just a better reserve currency than the US dollar, it’s actually a better currency.

Saphedian Ammos (left), author of “The Bitcoin Standard,” dines with a hammam. Source: Twitter

As a result, the business must forge a path by concentrating profits in bitcoin. For Tahini, that means keeping about six months’ worth of working capital on hand. According to Haman:

“Anything beyond that number is considered a jackpot, and we sweep in bitcoin. So, in a few months we will buy a little more aggressively – when the price is lower – and in the months after that, we will slow down a bit. But what we have depends on how much the company makes.”

For those in doubt, Hamm said, “we always try to manage it in a way where we never have to sell any bitcoins. That’s the important part.” Hamam claimed to have gifted BTC to family and friends, but he never sold it.

Tahini is working to set up the necessary infrastructure to accept bitcoin as a form of payment, but the process is challenging – not because of regulation or payment processors, but because the franchise wants to accept bitcoin. “Even if you are going to accept bitcoin, work it out in a way that you never have to sell it,” Hamam explained.

The inevitable hype bump that comes from jumping to “Bitcoins accepted here” is tempting, said Hamam, but “if you’re selling your bitcoins soon after you get it, you don’t really get bitcoin, in my opinion.” . ”

Hamam cited the Strike Lightning Network integration as an attractive proposition, as it would eliminate the high fees charged by Mastercard, but it is still “too early” to explore payment options when Priority Business is growing.

Ultimately, with a comparatively high level of trust in institutions in a developed economy like Canada, bitcoin is primarily a savings tool. Similarly, Tahini is not currently looking to pay salaries in BTC, as the franchise does not want to force the cryptocurrency on its employees.

But that didn’t stop Hamam from persuading Canada’s Conservative leadership candidate, Pierre Poiliver, to buy shawarma with bitcoin on the Lightning Network after Hamam’s “orange-puppy run out.” This was the first bitcoin transaction done in Tahini, by an increasingly pro-Bitcoin politician.

On a personal level, Hamam and the more devout bitcoiners of the management team raise questions such as: “Have you heard of bitcoin?” “Did you know you can buy a fraction of a bitcoin?” And even “maybe you should think about putting a few dollars into a bitcoin retirement plan.”

Essentially, when the price fluctuates, orange-pilling is far more successful. If the price is falling, it’s a little more challenging. For example, when China cracked down on cryptocurrencies, some of Hamam’s management team “got a little nervous.” Indeed, 300% of Cointelegraph reported earlier this year has started to melt.

Hamam said his conviction was enough to steer the ship and calm the nerves of his allies. Running a restaurant on the bitcoin standard comes with a side of excitement. While Hamam sings the praises of the leading cryptocurrency, there is also a community of enthusiastic BTC aficionados who backed Tahini’s investment decision and continues to provide support:

“The amount of love I have for the bitcoin community – I can’t even describe it. People who have never even tried to eat us.”

related: KPMG Adds BTC and ETH to Its Treasury in Canada

However, Hamam said that the bitcoin community did not directly affect the sale, as it is still a small, albeit vocal, worldwide community.

Still, the business kept its head above water during the 2021 market turmoil and plans to expand to more than 25 franchises in 2022. Hamam is firm in its decision to put profits in bitcoin – even in the face of a difficult economic backdrop:

“You’re still going to get the same benefits that someone else would get, or benefit Michael Sayer, or benefit Elon Musk.”

The company has “aligned itself with bitcoin’s mission” while, of course, serving “great food” to anyone. More and more companies may follow their lead and operate on the bitcoin standard, while Hamam joked that there could be a Middle Eastern cuisine depending on the cryptocurrency hitting the franchise soon.