When you think about pizza, the first thing that comes to mind is not cryptocurrency. It’s probably cheese or pepperoni and sausage, but for Bravo Pizza in Santa Maria, cryptocurrency is on the brain as the business changes ownership.
Pizza making is an art, and for some, it’s a lifestyle. Matt Miller’s first job in high school was at Bravo Pizza in Lompoc.
“I would always say, ‘I’m going to own that place one day,’” said Miller of his former place of employment.
“I used to laugh,” said Kara Miller, Matt’s wife and co-owner of Bravo Pizza. “We were newlyweds, and we’d drive by the one in Lompoc and be like, ‘Oh, ha ha. That’s funny.’”
That joke turned into a reality. A few years ago, he and his wife Kara bought it from the original owner and proceeded to open the Santa Maria shop in April of 2019.
In the process, he brought Jimmy Benavidez, whose first job was also at the location in Lompoc, on as manager. Now nearly two years to the day, the Millers are selling the Santa Maria location to Jimmy, but it’s not your typical business transaction.
“Jimmy was my best employee,” said Matt of the soon-to-be owner.
“Bitcoin has been a common interest between me and Matt, something we talk about commonly,” said Benavidez. “When he had mentioned he would take the payment in Bitcoin, it made a lot of sense to me.”
“I thought about it while making a pizza. Jimmy was looking to purchase the location. What better thing for the community to be a part of that? I feel like it would be interesting to have a groundbreaking thing on the Central Coast,” said Matt.
What is believed to be the first Bitcoin transaction was for two large pizzas, nearly 11 years ago, that cost 10,000 Bitcoin. How much is that worth now, you ask? More than a half billion dollars. But why would a pizza joint on the Central Coast change hands in the form of a cryptocurrency?
“Cryptocurrency is really a unique way to exchange funds without centralized banking,” said Matt. “It truly is the future for currency, I believe, as it’s more peer to peer and less bank or centralized agency to peer. It creates a network. It’s more secure, it’s faster.
Miller says while a few tech companies have been sold for Bitcoin, he believes Bravo Pizza in Santa Maria is the first brick and mortar store to be sold with Bitcoin.
“This has been our baby. We started it and have grown it. We’re celebrating two years that we opened it,” said Kara. “Now selling it to one of our longtime managers, it feels really good.”
“It’s a bit surreal he’s taking over the Santa Maria location. But it’s in great hands,” said Matt.
“April 1st will be two years since we opened this location in Santa Maria, and that’s the first day I’m taking over as well,” said Benavidez. “To know that we opened this Santa Maria location together. And now, for him to sell it to me and for me to take over, it’s almost surreal to think we’ve created something here from the ground up. It’s a blessing.”
The Millers plan to keep ownership of the Lompoc location and continue with other business ventures.