Dining establishments are embracing a new brand of customer with ultra-loyalty perks and community-focused incentives.

Resy co-founder Ben Leventhal launched a new NFT restaurant loyalty program. Blackbird essentially awards restaurant regulars with NFTs, a new signal to participating restaurants that the customer who owns the digital asset has earned VIP treatment. Diners can track their trips to participating restaurants – a list slowly growing in New York City – to earn their NFT status. Perks to being a Blackbird NFT owner include free desserts, coffee or meals depending on the restaurant, access to members-only events, and a direct line to restaurant hosts and owners for last minute reservations.

“Blackbird is here to create meaningful connectivity between restaurants and their customers,” Leventhal stated in a Substack post in April. “For the restaurant industry to get loyalty right,” he said, “these programs have to be bespoke and organic.”

Sweetgreen, a popular lunch and salad spot, is offering a new loyalty program for $10 a month. The Sweetpass loyalty program can be upgraded to Sweetgreen+, which offers discounted orders, one free delivery a month, early merch access, and direct lines to support teams. Chief brand officer Nathaniel Ru told Fast Company that the goal for Sweetgreen+ was to “find a way to reward loyalty behavior versus discount behavior.”

The restaurant and dining industries have seen several loyalty pivots in recent months. Co-owned eateries are sweeping NYC, offering hard-working employees the ability to invest in their place of work as a new employee benefit. Hennessy, Patrón, and Flyfish NYC sparked loyalty interest with VIP NFTs sales for exclusive, high-profile products, perks and offers. “We felt that by taking the traditional membership model and layering in this technology, the NFT component created something that was new and innovative and interesting and changed the value proposition to our members,” Flyfish Club and VCR Group founder and CEO David Rodolitz tells VML Intelligence. “They own the membership rather than essentially renting a social experience. They own their access.”

Restauranteurs have an opportunity to grow tight-knit, super loyal customer bases with these new-age dining perks. Whether NFTs or membership incentives, patrons are showing they have an appetite for good company and a sense of belonging.

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