It's closing time for ROOM77; the self-avowed "restaurant at the end of capitalism." The Berlin-based cypherpunk watering hole is among the first-ever bars to embrace Bitcoin - not just as a means of payments, but as a concept too.
The news was broken by Bitcoin activist, economist, and ROOM77 owner Joerg Platzer over the weekend.
"ROOM77 is closing for good. We think our mission is accomplished, and it is time to go back to our home planet. Thanks for all the fish and the generous tips!" Platzer wrote in the Bitcoin subreddit.
The message, which was more a homage to Bitcoin than an Auf Wiedersehen to ROOM77, embodies the same eccentric, community-focused, and Bitcoin-driven characteristics as the bar itself. Platzer's eccentric farewell reads:
Once a civilisation has developed a planetary hard money system, it usually does not take long until its members become peaceful and start putting their resources into developing longevity and space travel instead of governments and weapons. The first ten years of such a money are crucial, as there are always forces who want to hold back development and keep you in chains.
"We therefore stopped by, occupied that little joint in Berlin Kreuzberg and started promoting and explaining the importance of this step to the unaware public and offering a place where the development of the technology is being driven forward. And we had a great time doing so, having a lot of fun and making many friends," he added.
While many are aware of the first commercial Bitcoin transaction - the infamous 10,000 bitcoin shilled out for 2 Papa John's pizzas in 2010 - few know that ROOM77 played host to what was likely the first-ever in-store transaction: bitcoin for beer, circa 2011.
From that initial transaction, the bar continued to accept bitcoin in exchange for booze and burgers, drawing in a niche crowd of cypherpunks, crypto-anarchists, and libertarians alike. However, soon, the message had spread outside of ROOM77, and the sprawling Kreuzberg district of Berlin quickly became home to a local but thriving Bitcoin economy.
From record shops to Parisian style cafes, Bitcoin's usage in the Berlin suburb pervaded, and in turn helped dissipate the asset’s long-held stigma for criminal use.
"Kreuzberg traditionally is an area in Berlin where people are politically very aware, where people are critical toward existing systems, and where people are discussing and looking for alternatives," Platzer told the Guardian in a 2013 interview. "Therefore, Kreuzberg is actually a perfect ground for bitcoin to arrive and to reach people and to convince them.”
ROOM77 didn’t just bootstrap Bitcoin as a legitimate payment method, it helped spread a message of financial revolution to patrons and offered refuge to those ostracized for believing that Bitcoin was more than just a novel experiment.
Platzer didn't specify the reason for closure, but with COVID-19 ravaging business worldwide, some suspected the pandemic to be the culprit.
Regardless, Platzer's farewell sent a deluge of people paying tribute, giving thanks, and sending warm wishes to a bar and its founder who clearly left a significant mark on the community.
"Thanks for everything Joerg. To freedom of transactions!" wrote one Redditor. "Thanks for providing the inofficial embassy of Bitcoin in Berlin to us earthlings," wrote another.
It wasn't just Reddit, either. As soon as the news hit crypto Twitter, the ROOM77 eulogies came flooding in there too.
"Noooooo! We should all chip in and buy it. Bitcoin history!" suggested Charlie Shrem.
"Ah that's a shame, I had the chance to go there with a bunch of bitcoiners for lightning conference last year. Great times," said Stephan Livera.
A few also shared pictures and videos of the bar. The depict shoulder-to-shoulder punters, bathrooms plastered with crypto-centric stickers, Bitcoin slogans and memorabilia adorning the bar, and even a Bitcoin price tracker hanging over the counter.
"It is clear by now that nobody will stop Bitcoin anymore." read Platzer's parting message. "Sound money on a global scale will soon make it unfeasable to wage wars and it will create economic equality amongst mankind. We estimate it will take you less than another century to rise and join the intergalactic community."