Blackbird Beta: Gertie's Friends & Family Program
Read more about the first project to be powered by Blackbird's technology platform
The very first public project built on Blackbird’s loyalty and membership rails launches this week. It will be followed by several others in short order, and over the next three months the full range of our platform will start to come into focus. For now, the Blackbird team is committed to ensuring a smooth debut at GERTIE, and I’m here to tell you a little bit more about it.
As we’ve written in this space before, Blackbird is here to create meaningful connectivity between restaurants and their customers. By connectivity, we mean direct connectivity, where guests know that the more they show up, the better their experience is going to be. We hope to help restaurants think about benefits as a line of business, not just a bunch of random comps. If we can, restaurants will begin to deliver magic at scale, and get more profitable in the process. We’ll turn good restaurants into bonafide thrill rides — spontaneous, consistent, and compulsively enjoyable.
Checking all of these boxes is GERTIE, a Williamsburg diner that opened in 2019, battled through the pandemic by shape-shifting and now stands as an essential all-day joint for the neighborhood. They are using Blackbird to introduce a tiered Friends & Family program, where guests become “Neighbors” on their first visit, “Friends” at ten visits and “Fam” on visit fifteen. Design, nomenclature, and this tiering are all configured by the restaurant. Throughout, when you tap Gertie’s Blackbird-powered NFC chip (shown above), wonder awaits. On the first tap, a free cookie sourced from a nearby bakery comes your way. On the second, coffee is on the house. Over time, one-size-fits-many freebies give way to the kinds of perks you’d expect as a regular, like a personalized coffee mug that is always at the shop awaiting your arrival.
For the restaurant industry to get loyalty right, these programs have to be bespoke and organic to ensure that they’re doing justice to the restaurants they front. To that end, the card you see above is issued on your first visit and will take on these different forms as one progresses through the program. The core image of the card is Gertie herself, proprietor Nate Adler’s grandmother, and the photo was taken in Queens circa 1945.
About these cards more generally: you’ll have one of these for each Blackbird restaurant you visit and Blackbird’s website and app (coming soon) will store these for you. From a technological perspective, they are non-fungible tokens (NFTs) minted on the Base blockchain and, for my onchain friends in the back, you can verify their existence and provenance anytime (we provide a BaseScan link with each card). We will not initially allow them to be tradeable because we don’t think your identity is transferable. That said, we’ve teased our love of loyalty stamps and power-ups, and those concepts do feel much less soul-bound, so stay tuned on that front.
Blackbird is just getting started, and we are incredibly excited to see this first project out the door. We thank Nate and his team for their partnership. There is much more to come, but, for now, go visit GERTIE and have fun — and let us know what you think.
Founder + CEO
Blackbird Labs, Inc.