With the future of bitcoin more speculative than ever, one Central Coast tea room has announced that it is accepting the virtual currency as payment for finger sandwiches and a cup of Earl Grey.
Customers at The Quail & Thistle Tea Room in Capitola can now pay their bill in bitcoin, a digital currency that is created, distributed and authenticated outside of banks or governments. Menu prices will still be listed in U.S. dollars; the restaurant is using Coinbase as its bitcoin processor.
“The flow is a little different from what folks are used to with credit card transactions,” Quail & Thistle co-owner Danny Thorpe said in a blog post.
Quail & Thistle is the first restaurant in Santa Cruz County to accept bitcoin.
“An enormous amount of bitcoin technology development and activity is happening right next door to us in San Francisco and Silicon Valley,” Thorpe said. Many bitcoin “advocates live and play here in Santa Cruz county. If they have bitcoin to spend, we’re happy to accept it as payment.”
Quail & Thistle’s announcement comes at a particularly unfortunate time for bitcoin, which was dealt a blow when Mt. Gox, the most prominent bitcoin trading platform, froze all transactions. Investors have been unable to withdraw funds from Mt. Gox since the beginning of the month, and the website was deleted on Tuesday and its offices apparently shut down, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The company said a flaw in the bitcoin software allowed transaction records to be altered; meanwhile, reports are circulating about massive and ongoing theft at the company. Bitcoin enthusiasts are drawn to the currency because of its distance from regulators, but the Mt. Gox incident raises questions about the future of such a volatile marketplace.
Bitcoin has been adopted by some online startups and ecommerce sites, including Overstock.com, which began accepting the fledgling currency in January.
Thorpe said the cybercurrency will allow international visitors to avoid conversion fees when exchanging their native currency for U.S. dollars. He added that accepting bitcoin helps the restaurant avoid credit card transaction fees.