Diners in Midtown Manhattan can buy bitcoin from an ATM now that Zen Palate, a vegan Asian restaurant, has a General Bytes bitcoin ATM on the premises. The placement of the ATM at the restaurant on Third Avenue in East Midtown takes Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Bitcoin Brands one machine closer to its goal of operating 100 ATMs.
Patrons can buy bitcoins from the unidirectional ATM, which sits on the restaurant’s bar and can be seen from the street. The ATM distributes bitcoin from wallets and bitcoin exchanges.
Bitcoin Brands, which owns and operates the ATM, pays the restaurant a commission on the sales, according to George Johnson, one of Zen Palate’s owners.
“It’s been awesome. I think there is money to be made here,” said Johnson.
Bitcoin Brands manages the transactions via a web server. The ATM allows users to buy using a QR code or cash.
Johnson expects there will be more retail establishments offering bitcoin ATMs. He became interested in having a bitcoin ATM in the restaurant after learning about bitcoin from friends and acquaintances.
“A lot of shop owners have cash they have no place to put,” Johnson said. “It seems to be the right thing at the right time. Bitcoin in general and the ATM is going to be very serious.”
While the ATM has been on site for only a couple of weeks, “It’s doing a little better than I thought it would,” said Johnson. He said people are coming into the restaurant just to buy bitcoin. So far, the only way people know about the machine is either by word of mouth or by seeing it from outside the building.
Zen Palate plans to install a sign to draw attention to the ATM and will look for ways to promote it on the Internet.
The restaurant’s patrons cannot pay for their meals or leave tips in bitcoin at present. Peter Klamka, the owner of Bitcoin Brands, which operates the ATM, said patrons will be able to pay using bitcoin in the near future, and may be able to leave tips. The General Bytes ATM can allow a customer to pay their bill and designate a portion as a tip for the server.
“It sells bitcoin every day,” Klamka said. “I am beyond pleased with it.”
Klamka said Midtown Manhattan has the right demographics for a bitcoin ATM – lots of younger consumers who are aware of bitcoin.
“It is fairly close to Grand Central Station. I believe there is a client base in the area.”
Klamka believes the Zen Palate ATM is the only one operating in Midtown Manhattan at the present time.
CNN reported in April of 2013 that a night club called EVR had a bitcoin ATM, but that establishment has since closed.
Klamka operates bitcoin ATMs in several states, mostly in retail locations. He said retailers like bitcoin ATMs since they generate attention and build customer traffic, thereby improving sales.
Bitcoin Brands gives retail customers the choice of purchasing an ATM outright or allowing Bitcoin Brands to operate the machine in exchange for a commission. Thus far, most retail customers have opted for the commission arrangement.