Last month an SFGate.com columnist explored plans for San Francisco’s first NFT-based restaurant, an “ostentatious Japanese-themed restaurant and private club” featuring a members-only Sho Club Sky Lounge.
What’s more galling than the repeated use of the terms “immersive” and “experiential” to describe an actual restaurant is the fact that, as the group’s website proudly proclaims, the astronomically expensive and exclusive eatery “is the only rooftop restaurant located on the Salesforce Transit Center’s roof.” As downtown San Francisco suffers through soaring homelessness, vacant storefronts and a deadly fentanyl epidemic, the idea of its newest public space only providing food for those willing to spend exorbitant sums is brazen. In a terrifying J.G. Ballard-like dystopian metaphor come to life, the private lounge, which will charge a top-tier membership fee of $300,000 a pop… will be situated 70 feet above surrounding homeless encampments. [The cheapest membership tier is available for a one-time fee of $7,500.]
In maybe a projection of the venture’s deficits, the most common word used in interviews and marketing blurbs surrounding the decidedly exclusionary club is “community.” The word, adored in the crypto world, is used relentlessly in all of Sho marketing materials, as though if said enough times this ultra-bourgeois establishment under the bright lights of Salesforce Tower’s beaming helmet will somehow magically help the working man under Sauron’s gaze…. Outside of the private members lounge, the restaurant will be open to the public. Sho told SFGATE over email that the number of seats and tables available to the public is not available at this time….
It’s a smug celebration of the widening chasm of wealth disparity, planted in a time and a city that needs just the opposite.
Marketing materials note that paid memberships “will be minted on the Ethereum blockchain. As an NFT, the SHO Club membership will be an asset to the holder, publicly verifiable, and can later be sold or transferred on the secondary market.”
So Friday SFGate.com paid another visit to “the empty husk of the building that will, if all goes smoothly, soon sell NFT memberships between $7,500 and $300,000 to join a hospitality club at a yet-to-be-constructed Japanese fine-dining restaurant in the middle of Salesforce Park.” (Predicted grand opening date: September/October 2023.)
The public will have allocated reservations too, [CEO Joshua] Sigel said, without revealing numbers. “Then what’s the selling point for a membership?” a reporter interjected. There will be special events, a monthly membership dinner for certain tiers, and concierge service, among other benefits, Sigel said… Sigel said there’s “fantastic” interest in Sho Club memberships, that they’ve had thousands of sign-ups on their website, and they anticipate rolling out a private NFT sale next week, followed by a public sale in mid- to late September….
Inevitably came web3 talk. Once the 3,275 NFTs memberships are sold, that’s it, no more. If you want to become a member after that, you’ll have to obtain a Sho Group NFT on OpenSea, a secondary market for NFTs…. Sho Group will get a 10% kickback on any secondary market sales of NFTs. A reporter astutely asked how the restaurant will keep tabs on who its new members are, once the NFTs start exchanging hands. In other words: What happens when a genuine piece of s — t snags a secondary market membership? Sigel assured us the restaurant will have a terms and conditions agreement to deal with unruly forces….
Someone abruptly asked Sigel if he’ll be helping the homeless, a non sequitur of epic proportions that does, in fairness, loom over everything related to this fancy restaurant located in an ostensibly public park. “Great question,” he started, announcing that in the next few weeks, his group will be rolling out a foundation of some kind. “For those who know Sho and I well, giving back and supporting the community is a very big thing for us. You specifically asked about the homeless — I have a family member who’s homeless. It’s near and dear to my heart, in terms of serving not only the unhoused, but also those who are in need of food.”