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Eating out/in the Metaverse

The Metaverse will impact all facets of our lives, not least our work and social lives. But it will also have a significant impact across all industries, from the extraction and production of raw material, to manufacturing, construction and service industries.

Like the education and healthcare industries, the restaurant industry is likely to be impacted by the Metaverse and/or Metaverse technologies in the years to come.

The Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on the restaurant industry. Lockdowns, social distancing measures and general caution in public places ensured that consumers dined out less, forcing the restaurant industry to take a huge hit. In response, people moved to food delivery apps such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Just Eat, for safe, socially distanced and convenient services, leading to a boom in lockdown-driven growth.

In response to this change in consumer behaviour, and the ongoing spectre of future lockdowns hanging over restaurateurs, how might they benefit from the Metaverse and Metaverse technologies?

Let’s start with the basics. Very few restaurants have a presence in the Metaverse, and no-one in the restaurant industry has taken the leap required to establish a permanent Metaverse presence. To date, only fast-food brands like Chipotle, via Roblox, and Wendy's, via Meta’s Horizon Worlds, have launched virtual restaurants in order to reach their customers. Chipotle has used play-to-earn mechanics to its Roblox store so that earn Burrito Bucks which can be exchanged for a ode that can be used at a real-life Chipotle restaurant

The world’s largest fast-food chain, McDonald’s, appears to be hot on their heels, with plans to offer “virtual food and beverage products”, and “downloadable multimedia files containing artwork, text, audio and video files and non-fungible tokens”. In other words, McDonald’s will enable customers to grab a McDonald’s meal in the Metaverse and have it delivered in the real world, and will offer virtual assets, perhaps in the form of limited edition, virtual Happy Meal toys. Similarly, America bakery-café Panera Bread is looking to establish a “Paneraverse”, combing virtual restaurants with real-world food delivery, and where non-fungible tokens (Paneracoin anyone?) can be used as virtual currency to purchase virtual food and drinks. Panera chief digital officer George Hanson was quoted as saying that: “Panera is always working to be at the forefront of tech advancement – as a brand, we are consistently looking for new ways to better our guest experience, whether in our cafes or in the Metaverse”.

But away from the fast-food sector, what about the wider restaurant industry? Fast-casual and fine-dining restaurants could replicate their restaurants in the virtual world, allowing prospective diners the opportunity to experience the atmosphere and decide if it’s right for what they have planned, whether it’s business or pleasure. There’s always a certain sense of the unknown when ordering food, especially in a fine-dining restaurant. But what if you could preview every dish on the menu in high definition before you arrive? No more food-envy! And what if you could see the portion sizes prior to digging in? No more surprises when the bill arrives, and less food waste.

Furthermore, prospective diners could find the best spot for their meal, especially if it’s a special occasion. Proposing? Not a problem, you can visit a virtual replica of the restaurant before you book and pick out the perfect table to ask for your partner’s hand in marriage.

Metaverse technologies could also facilitate the kitchen’s ability to enhance the dining experience. Augmented reality could ensure every steak is cooked to perfection, achieving a level of consistency that could cause Michelin some problems. And could also help the pass assess individual servings for diner-specific requirements prior to letting the waiters take them to the table. Here at The Metaverse we can’t help but look forward to the perfect dining experience.

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Syed Ahmad/Unsplash

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