Virtual restaurant

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A virtual restaurant in Columbus, Ohio in 2020 that specializes in online deliveries via Uber Eats and other similar services. Note its warehouse-like appearance that is not typical of a traditional restaurant.

A virtual restaurant is a food service business that serves customers exclusively by delivery based on phone orders or online food ordering.[1] It is a separate food vendor entity that operates out of an existing restaurant's kitchen.[2][3][4] By not having a full-service restaurant premise with a storefront and dining room, virtual restaurants can economize by occupying cheaper real estate.[5][6] This is in contrast to a ghost kitchen which is a co-working concept for meal preparation with no retail presence that a restaurant/brand or multiple restaurants can buy into.[2][7][8]

Background[edit]

Virtual restaurants are set up within existing restaurants, allowing businesses to cut costs by sharing space.[7] Virtual restaurants also save money by avoiding dine-in service through reliance on delivery service. Virtual restaurants rely on their own delivery drivers or third-party delivery apps such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, Postmates and DoorDash to deliver food to customers. However, some companies also incorporate their own delivery system into the business model.[2][3][9]

A typical virtual restaurant location is able to accommodate the preparation of several different types of cuisines.[10][11] The strategy of having multiple brands and cuisines can target a broader range of customers. Food can be prepared by specialty chefs or any range of cooks. Virtual restaurants are intended for people looking for culinary foods and convenience, often locally or within close proximity to them.[12]

Virtual restaurants have become popular during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increase in social distancing and work-from-home policies.[7] Uber Eats has helped launch over 4,000 virtual restaurants around the world.[2][8]

Ghost restaurants have been criticized for their unpleasant working conditions and cramped, windowless kitchen spaces.[13] Several 2015 news articles found some "ghost restaurants" operated as unregulated, unlicensed standalone entities[14] or as "fronts" for restaurants that might or might not have health code violations.[15]

Types[edit]

Some examples of virtual restaurants include Pasqually's Pizza & Wings which operates out of Chuck E. Cheese, Wing Squad which operates out of Buca di Beppo, Neighborhood Wings which operates out of Applebee's, It's Just Wings which operates out of Chili's, and The Wing Experience and The Burger Experience which operate out of Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill.[16][17][18]

In 2020, rapper Tyga partnered with Robert Earl and Virtual Dining Concepts to launch a series of virtual restaurants called Tyga Bites which is delivery only through Grubhub and operates out of existing restaurants' kitchens.[19][20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shieber, Jonathan (November 2018). "The next big restaurant chain may not own any kitchens". Tech Cruch. Verizon Media. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Isaac, Mike; Yaffe-Bellany, David (2019-08-14). "The Rise of the Virtual Restaurant (Published 2019)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  3. ^ a b "Wing Squad Introduces Delivery Only Restaurant Concept". EatSeattle. 2020-02-06. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  4. ^ "Chuck E. Cheese is Serious About Pasqually's Pizza & Wings". QSR magazine. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  5. ^ Holmes, Mona (May 23, 2018). "Here's Why a Lot of Delivery Food Isn't Coming From Actual Restaurants The incubators are like WeWork for the restaurant industry". Eater Los Angeles. Vox Media. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  6. ^ Chamlee, Virginia (September 30, 2016). "Are Virtual Restaurants Dining's Next Hot Trend?". Eater.
  7. ^ a b c "'Ghost' kitchens scare up business as restaurants grapple with social-distancing impact". HoustonChronicle.com. 2020-05-06. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  8. ^ a b Olson, Alexandra. "The rise of 'ghost kitchens': Here's what the online food ordering boom has produced". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  9. ^ "Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl builds virtual restaurant empire of delivery-only brands". Restaurant Hospitality. 2020-01-31. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  10. ^ Turow Paul, Eve (March 24, 2017). "That Restaurant On Seamless Might Not Actually Exist". Forbes.com. Forbes Media LLC. if you have a 6,000 square foot kitchen you can make very high-quality food and have many different styles of cuisine coming from the same kitchen.
  11. ^ Channick, Robert (March 27, 2017). "9 restaurants, 1 kitchen, no dining room". chicagotribune.com. TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY. Butcher Block, Milk Money and Leafage share the same address, chefs and owner.
  12. ^ Chamlee, Virginia (2016-09-30). "Are Virtual Restaurants Dining's Next Hot Trend?". Eater. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  13. ^ Harris, John (2018-10-09). "Are dark kitchens the satanic mills of our era? | John Harris". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  14. ^ Thompson, Elise Thompson. "Have You Missed Starry Kitchen's Balls? Us Too. Uber Eats is Here to Save Us All!". The LA Beat. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  15. ^ Glorioso, Chris & Givens, Ann & Stulberger, Evan (November 11, 2015). "LOCALI-Team: Restaurants Use False Identities on Food Delivery Websites". NBC News. New York.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  16. ^ Mike Pomranz (May 19, 2020). "Applebee's Side Hustle Restaurant Appears on Delivery Apps as 'Neighborhood Wings'".
  17. ^ Danny Klein (June 1, 2020). "Chili's Owner Launches Virtual Wings Concept".
  18. ^ Staff (August 4, 2020). "Smokey Bones to Open 122 New Virtual Restaurants".
  19. ^ Trace William Cowen (July 29, 2020). "Tyga Launches Delivery of Oven-Baked Chicken Bites With New Grubhub Collab".
  20. ^ Lisa Jennings (July 29, 2020). "Robert Earl launches Tyga Bites, first in a series of celebrity-fueled virtual restaurant brands".