East London's Brick Lane is a favourite destination for tourists seeking some of the area's storied urban grit and cutting-edge fashions.
The Sunday Up Market, housed in part of the Old Truman Brewery complex, is where visitors can go to grab a bite from the cosmopolitan array of stalls - food from Mexico, Japan, Argentina and plenty more. But a new vendor is offering something that sets it apart even at the Upmarket: steamed burgers that customers can buy with dogecoin.
The vendor is BIT Bourbon Steam Burgers, and its been open for two Sundays. Its owner, Oliver Rynkiewicz, contends that his burgers taste better because the beef patties are cooked in a steam oven instead of on a grill. The burgers are steamed in a bourbon and spice-laced concoction, that Rynkiewicz claims greatly enhances their flavour.
"The water is infused with bourbon, rosemary and other spices. This keeps the burger moist, it's less fatty but it's still juicy," he said.
It seems London's dogecoiners have taken in interest. Rynkiewicz said he has had three customers pay with the dog-based digital currency and one customer settle the bill with the more conventional cryptocurrency, bitcoin. Rynkiewicz's steamed burgers start at £5.50 for a basic cheeseburger.
Rynkiewicz said he has collected about 18,000 dogecoin from customers to date. He said he plans to keep any digital currency he receives as an investment. He was first introduced to digital currencies by his brother, a web designer. He said:
"My elder brother is really into bitcoin and dogecoin, so I was thinking, why not start accepting it? It's good for marketing as well. I really believe in dogecoin and I think it will go to the moon."
As CoinDesk was sampling Rynkiewicz's wares, one bitcoin enthusiast happened to walk by, remarking on the stall's signboard which read: Double Bit Burger, Much Meat, Very Tasty!'. The passerby, Cais Manai, couldn't part with his digital currency for a burger because he didn't have a mobile wallet.
"I've only got my bitcoins on my computer at home. I've got an ASIC miner. This is cool, though," Manai said.
Man v Food
Rynkiewicz, 22, was inspired to start his steamed burger stall by an episode of the television series 'Man V Food'. The show follows host Adam Richman's travels around the United States as he consumes vast quantities of apparently delicious food:
"I'm not a huge fan of the show, but I was just bored at home and happened to watch this episode where [Richman] went to Connecticut to eat this steamed burger. I was considering a few other dishes, like pulled pork, as well."
Rynkiewicz is juggling a full-time job as a bartender at a five-star London hotel with running his burger stall with his partner on the weekend. He hopes to get enough business from his burger venture to quit his day job and open several more stalls around London. He said he moved to London a year ago from Sunderland where he worked as a tattoo artist.
"I work Monday to Friday [at the hotel] and then Saturday is our prep day for the stall. Then I wake up at seven to start business here," he said.
Rynkiewicz's burger stall isn't the first vendor to accept digital currencies in east London. CoinDesk previously reported on Burger Bear, a gourmet burger stall in Shoreditch that was the first to accept bitcoin.
Featured image by Joon Ian Wong, other images courtesy of BIT's Facebook page.