This week the team behind SHŌ Club, the ambitious development hoping to make history as San Francisco’s first NFT-based club and restaurant, announced more details about the financial side of the project including how much each of the three tiers of memberships — dubbed Earth, Water, and Fire — will cost and what perks members can expect.
First and foremost, anyone looking to buy one of SHŌ Club’s finite 3,265 memberships should be prepared to plunk down no less than $7,500, and as much as $300,000 if you were hoping to earn those “ownership-like benefits” teased in the project’s media push earlier this month. The good news for anyone raising an eyebrow as cryptocurrencies experience wild fluctuations in value: you’ll be able to purchase your SHŌ Club membership with good old fashioned dollars if you want, though you’ll still receive your proof of membership in the form of an NFT, which are, of course, inherently tied up in the Ethereum blockchain.
For SHŌ Group CEO Josh Sigel that’s the whole point. “The currency, for us, is less important than the underlying tech that’s innate to NFTs,” Sigel says. “We want to make it as easy for people to buy as possible.” Sigel, who brings experience in both food and tech to the project, says it’s the security provided by the blockchain that makes the company attracted to selling NFT-based memberships — as opposed to, say, physical cards. Plus he says the technology allows the company to do things like airdrop additional benefits (think, tickets to an exclusive event) to membership holders. “This is for us, a long term play,” he says.
So what does a membership to SHŌ Club actually get you? At the lowest level, members get services including a house account and a concierge; access to priority reservations, a members-only menu, and a members-only lounge; and experiences including online events, educational programming, and guaranteed access to one quarterly membership event a year. The company plans to mint 2,678 of these Earth tier memberships and will hold onto 200 more, for a total of 2,878 Earth-level SHŌ Club members. Sigel says there are no plans to add any additional memberships after the fact, so if you don’t snag one at launch, you’ll have to get them on the secondary or resale market.
For the middle tier, which costs $15,000, Water members get all the same Earth perks plus a few more: valet parking or a complimentary car service, access to all quarterly membership events, plus entry to an annual Water and Fire event. These 377 memberships, 50 of which will be held for internal use, also include access to a monthly omakase dinner, though food and drink isn’t included in the membership fee. Finally there’s that eye-popping $300,000 Fire tier — open to just 10 members who will enjoy all of the aforementioned perks and more. Most notably the $300,000 NFT entitles the holder to a share of the club’s revenue and a seat on the Fire Board, per a press release. There’s also a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to Japan, though that’s a single-use perk meaning if this NFT exchanges hands, you’ll be out of luck there.
Sigel says the team thought “long and hard” about the right price for each tier. “We’ve always looked at, in terms of the pricing, making sure that we’re creating exponential value for our members,” he says. Considering membership entitles the holder to a lifetime of benefits for a one-time fee, he says even $15,000 is a “fair price.” And, yes, restaurants have a reputation for being all-too-often short lived, but Sigel’s adamant SHŌ Club folding and leaving members with a useless digital token is “incredibly unlikely”; in fact, he points out, the company is already in talks for additional locations in cities such as Las Vegas, Miami, and Tokyo. Founding members — as in those lucky 3,265 first members of the flagship San Francisco location — can expect some benefits at all future locations, too.
In terms of the food, chef Shotaro “Sho” Kamio (also behind Berkeley’s Iyasare) explains the two levels will offer distinct dining experiences for both members and the public, who will be able to make reservations at both the fine dining restaurant and rooftop bar and lounge. On the main floor, SHŌ restaurant centers around a 12-foot by three-foot sunken irori-style grill. These charcoal grills used to serve as both a cooking apparatus and light and heating source in Japanese homes; at the restaurant he’ll use it to introduce more diners to what he calls “Japanese farmhouse” cooking. He’ll build deep umami flavors through aged fish and meats and harnesses the natural savory qualities of smoke and seaweed. Upstairs, things take a more modern turn. The bar and lounge will showcase “made in San Francisco-style sushi,” he says — think, California rolls and spicy tuna. There will also be a selection of sake for casual diners to explore.
Sigel says they expect to begin membership pre-sales in August, with construction on the project slated to begin later this fall. The restaurant will perch on top of Salesforce Park, the four-block green space nestled on the roof of the Salesforce Transit Center, and there will be a retail market called SHŌ Market on the ground floor. It’s been a slog navigating the intricacies of building on top of the existing infrastructure, but Sigel says the team plans to host events and pop-ups between now and the project’s completion. It’s a way to build community around the SHŌ Club, he explains. “In the world of hospitality I think we’re seeing a movement toward the recognition that community is an integral part of the success of restaurant and brands,” he says. “For us, we really wanted to develop a close knit group of people we could not only foster a direct connection with … but also create a way in which those individuals could come together.”
The SHŌ Club membership pre-sale will begin in August. For more information on SHŌ Group or on obtaining a SHŌ Club membership, visit the SHŌ Club website.