In brief

  • Sweden has taken a business-as-usual approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Despite this, restaurants are suffering as Swedes opt to avoid non-essential travel and work from home.
  • This has left many businesses on the verge of collapse, including one of Sweden's few Bitcoin pizza places.

A Swedish Bitcoin pizza restaurant is now facing bankruptcy as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through Sweden.

Like most countries, Sweden has been seriously affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak with more than 3,866 currently active COVID-19 cases in the country and 146 deaths.

However, unlike most other countries, which have implemented strict movement controls and lockdown procedures, Sweden has instead opted for a more relaxed response. Instead, Swedes are encouraged to work from home wherever possible, limit public gatherings and wash their hands often, while most businesses are still open as usual.

Crypto-friendly pizza place Ariana is one of these businesses still operating as 'business as usual'. The restaurant, located in Kungsholmen in the Swedish capital of Stockholm is one of just a handful of restaurants in the country that accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment option.

Despite opening its doors for the first time in January, Ariana is now facing potential bankruptcy, as its revenue fell by 90% in the last few weeks.

"At lunchtime, we usually have between 40 and 70 guests, but now we are down to 10 to a maximum of 15 guests”, restaurant owner Sekander Islamzai told Trijo News.

Not enough help available

Although Sweden has opted to keep businesses open during the pandemic, firms in the restaurant and hotel sector have seen interest dwindle in recent weeks as many Swedes now avoid non-essential travel and instead work from home.

The Swedish government has begun offering assistance to struggling businesses, including a number of crisis packages, which help small businesses reduce payroll tax and rental costs. Although beneficial, Sekander Islamzai doesn't believe that these will be enough;

“We were able to run the business on the money we used to bring in, but since our revenue is down 90 percent, it is no longer sustainable. The measures that have come from the government help, but if it does not bring money into the cash register it will not work”.

One of the first Bitcoin transactions was for two Papa Johns pizzas. Image: Shutterstock.

Sekander Islamzai hopes that online sales through food delivery apps and donations will sustain the company through to Bitcoin Pizza Day (May 22), when the restaurant plans to release a special menu for the crypto community.

Bitcoin pizza day refers to the day Laszlo Hanyecz agreed to pay 10,000 Bitcoin for two Papa Johns pizzas. The deal was one of the first Bitcoin transactions. That amount of Bitcoin would be currently worth $63,830,000.