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New: Isabel Pearl Restaurant First to Accept Bitcoin

Monday, January 12, 2015

 

Isabel restaurant, a Pearl-district fixture for the past seven years, has become Portland's first full-service restaurant to accept Bitcoin. Although the online currency's use has become more widespread since its introduction in 2008, the online currency's wildly fluctuating value and mysterious inner workings have made it the subject of much controversy. 

The digital currency lacks many of the conventions associated with traditional money. It’s not a physical item that you can hold in your hand. It’s not issued by a government or bank, and its value is based solely on the demand for it at a given time. Bitcoins were valued at over $1,000 a year ago, but at press time were valued at approximateluy $275.

After attending a recent Bitcoin group meetup, co-owner Billy Tosheff made the decision to make Bitcoin payments available at Isabel. Using an iPad and customers' individual Bitcoin accounts, patrons will be able to pay for the restaurant's brunch, lunch and dinner offerings much in the same way as credit card payments are taken (through Foursquare, for instance). 

Since its inception, Bitcoin has been mostly used online, although its increasing brick-and-mortar presence is evidenced by two Bitcoin ATM's in Portland--one in downtown's Pioneer Place Mall, another on Southeast Portland's Hawthorne Boulevard. In an age of rapidly diversifying options for retail payments, Isabel's move is a notable first in Portland.

Only one patron has used the service so far, said Lindsey Mains, lead server at Isabel, but more are expected. Patrons can even tip in Bitcoin--although of course the restaurant will convert that to more official forms of currency before sending servers on their way.

 

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