As Eurozone leaders reach an agreement for a new bailout of Greece, the prospect of a ‘Grexit’ diminishes in the short term. After 17 hours of meetings in Brussels overnight in Europe, it seems that the most pressing crisis in Europe has been avoided for now. Nonetheless, the economic uncertainty that swept the country increased awareness of Bitcoin. Some businesses were at the center of this increased awareness of Bitcoin in the southern European country.
Tavern Agelos, a traditional Greek restaurant, is one of those businesses. The restaurant is an early adopter, and there’s perhaps not a country in the world where doing so could be as relevant as in Greece. The restaurant has been in business since 1996, accepting Bitcoin for the first time in 2012. Serving Greek salad, feta cheese, tzatziki, pastitsio, and other foods from Greece, the restaurant has had somewhat of a Bitcoin marketing coup in recent weeks, with the son, Nikos Agelos Houtas, who has run the business with his parents since 1996, doing a Reddit AMA. This marketing push has indeed attracted new customers to the business.
Media first started coming to Tavern Agelos in 2012, when the traditional Greek restaurant first started accepting Bitcoin. In the last two weeks, however, reporters from all over the world have come to speak to Agelos, including CNN, Bloomberg, and Al Jazeera.
Amid the crisis in Greece, as Houtas explained, the Greek people could buy 60 euros worth of bitcoins each day due to capital controls. For Agelos, the business has gone down 50% due to the crisis, but Houtas assures that five years into the crisis, Greeks have learned to deal with the hard times. People are fearful, he says, because their banks are closed, capital controls have been instituted and because banks might give savers a “haircut.”
Whereas before the capital controls 50% of people in Greece were getting their salaries in cash, after the fact that figure dropped to 25%, according to Houtas. Houtas ultimately fears a so-called ‘Grexit’, preferring the EU and Greece work through their differences as they seem to have done Sunday night/Monday morning.
“My fear is our government does not make a deal with the European Union and we leave the EU and Euro,” Houtas told CCN.com before the deal. Prior to accepting Bitcoin, Nikos had to first convince his parents, which was not too hard, even if they didn’t quite understand the technology.
“My parents listened to the suggestion about accepting Bitcoin, but people over 50 years old in Greece do not know a lot about technology,” he says. “Therefore it is hard for my parents to use it.” The company gives discounts for people using Bitcoin as a way of teaching about the nascent crypto-currency.
“We offer a discount for people who pay in Bitcoin to encourage our customers to learn about it. This discount is available to everyone from all over, seeing as how Bitcoin is a universal currency,”
he told CCN.com. Houtas’ hopes for Greece are modest enough.
I hope Greece and the EU solve all their problems. I hope to see more tourists at my restaurant paying with Bitcoin.