Celebrity chef Guy Fieri recently launched a new ghost kitchen concept called Guy Fieri's Flavortown Kitchen. He joins countless other celebrities looking to leverage their personal brand and popularity with a food concept.
What Is A Ghost Kitchen? A ghost kitchen, interchangeable with a virtual restaurant, is a delivery-only restaurant specifically optimized for use on delivery platforms such as DoorDash Inc (NYSE: DASH), Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) and others.
Ghost kitchens exist in several forms. First, an established restaurant leverages its existing kitchen to create and launch a second menu through digital-only channels. Restaurants of all sizes can take advantage of the concept to open themselves to new markets and generate incremental sales.
For example, when someone orders from Just Wings on DoorDash, the food is prepared in Brinker International, Inc.'s (NYSE: EAT) Chili's kitchen by Chili's staff.
Chuck E. Cheese is another example of a chain selling its own food under a different name, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings. This could be seen as a strategy of increasing sales as the legacy Chuck E. Cheese brand is not as popular as it was decades ago.
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Over the past few years, celebrities have started to team up with companies such as Virtual Dining Concepts to help launch a ghost kitchen. Virtual Dining Concepts already operates full-service restaurants, such as Buca di Beppo and Bertucci's, so it already has the infrastructure in place to prepare digital orders on behalf of its celebrity partners.
The logic behind the concept is simple: Celebrities with no experience in the restaurant industry can partner with Virtual Dining Concepts across its hundreds of restaurants nationwide, or other restaurants who sign with the company, to handle all of the cooking and delivery logistics for a fee.
Consumers often believe they are ordering from a brand new celebrity-linked restaurant, when in fact the food will come from an existing establishment.
Here are some of the celebrities partnering with Virtual Dining Concepts:
Guy Fieri: This month the "Mayor of Flavortown" had a soft opening for its new virtual restaurant, Guy Fieri's Flavortown Kitchen, featuring big and bold flavors such as "Real Cheezy" burgers and "Bacon Mac N Cheese," along with healthier choices such as a veggie burger.
Mr. Beast: YouTube superstar MrBeast (given name, Jimmy Donaldson) launched MrBeast Burger in late 2020. Menu items are named after his friends and co-workers.
Mariah Carey: Legendary singer-songwriter Mariah Carey's Mariah's Cookies started in late 2020. Choices include: Triple Chocolate Chunk, Spiced Oatmeal Raisin, among others.
Tyga: Rapper Tyga (given name, Michael Ray Stevenson) launched Tyga's Chicken Bites in July 2020. It is a virtual restaurant focusing on oven-baked, boneless chicken bites. The chicken is also antibiotic free.
Pauly D: "Jersey Shore" reality star Paul DelVecchio Jr., better known as Pauly D, will start a virtual restaurant, Pauly D's Italian Subs.
Mario Lopez: Actor and TV host Mario Lopez's dining concept, Mario's Tortas Lopez Sandwich x Bowls, will offer traditional tortas, salads, churros and more.
Wiz Khalifa: Though not part of the Virtual Dining Concept empire, rapper Wiz Khalifa's ghost kitchen, "Hotbox," focuses on "420-friendly" options. Khalifa is partnering with Ordermark.
(Photo: Food Network)
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