Celebrity Ghost Kitchens May Be This Year’s Hottest Dining Trend

26 febrero 2021

Celebrity Ghost Kitchens May Be This Year’s Hottest Dining Trend

Recently, it was revealed celebrity chef Guy Fieri was launching Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen, a delivery-only virtual restaurant with no physical locations.

Guy Fieri's Flavortown Kitchen

Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen

Virtual Dining Concepts

This may sound like a pretty wild way to open a restaurant, but he’s in good company in the COVID era, when supporting chefs and restaurants while avoiding crowds is of great interest.

Many other celebrities have recently launched virtual restaurants with Virtual Dining Concepts, including MrBeast Burger, Mariah’s Cookies by Mariah Carey, TYGA BITES by hip-hop artist Tyga, and the soon-to-launch Mario’s Tortas Lopez by Mario Lopez and Pauly D’s Italian Subs by DJ Pauly D.

TYGA BITES

TYGA BITES

Virtual Dining Concepts

They aren’t the only ones. Roberta’s, known for their trendy pizza spots in New York in Bushwick and Domino Park, participated in DoorDash’s ghost kitchen in New York. Another great example is Mealco, a food-tech start-up featuring dining concepts such as Chef Hillary Sterling of Vic’s fried chicken concept, Cayenne.

Russ Rosenband co-founded the New York-based virtual dumpling company City Dumpling and currently serves as a strategic advisor to New York-based ghost kitchen company Zuul who recently launched a partnership with Thrillist. Russ is also an investor in Bbot, a restaurant tech platform powering ghost kitchens like Gansu Ramen which is currently operating out of Sarabeth’s restaurant in New York City.

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“The emergence of ghost kitchens as a viable and profitable way to scale restaurant operations created a new roster of industry experts,” said Rosenband. “These are experts that are writing the playbook for how to launch, market, and execute virtual-only concepts, regardless of cuisine type,” he explained.

Ghost kitchens and virtual dining is seen emerging in many different forms. “While each model varies, ghost kitchens essentially offer a fast and easy way for consumers to order food to go with options from a variety of restaurant brands all under one roof,” said Atul Sood, Chief Business Officer of Kitchen United.

The ghost kitchen concept may feel kind of reminiscent to a food hall, but it shows the parallels to the food hall model without in-restaurant dining. It also offers an opportunity for restaurants who have been greatly suffering this past year to find revenue streams and also to continue to meet customer demand. For restaurants, it’s a win-win proposition.

We live in a time when eyeballs and visibility matters a great deal. “Celebrities are seeing the virtual restaurant space as a way to engage with their communities in new, fun ways,” said Rosenband. While the celebrities may make a fee on top-line sales, it remains to be seen if the actual operators can make any real money here.

Prior to the pandemic, we were already seeing lots of interest and growth in this concept. “Since the initial lockdown and shuttered dining rooms across the United States, we’ve witnessed an accelerated adoption of the model as consumers seek more take-out options from the restaurants they love,” said Sood.

Significantly reduced staffing doesn’t just mean greater opportunity for profit for delivery/pickup only dining concepts, but a much more easily managed business. “All of our restaurant partners employ their own staff,” said Sood.

This, and the community environment restaurants encounter in a kitchen center significantly reduce staff turnover. “All of our locations have Kitchen United staff members who handle things like cleaning, trash removal and handing orders off to consumers and delivery service personnel so that restaurant employees can focus on making their food,” said Sood.

Sood expects the ghost kitchen trend to continue to be a hot topic with staying power as a proven model and are excited to see the space evolve.

Celebrities are a big driving force

We look up to celebrities. “We feel comforted by them and are easily persuaded to listen to their recommendations to try to live the glamorous lives they do,” said Kathy Holt, sales and channel lead at JPG Resources.

We’ve seen celebrities take on new ventures in the past including restaurants, but with Hollywood, sports leagues and tours having been shut down, they’ve had more time to pursue these new avenues, explains Holt. “With the challenges the industry has faced, these partnerships can help establishments stay in business and bounce back,” said Holt. People might not necessarily be purchasing new clothes, concert tickets, shoes or makeup, but they do still need to eat. Food service has taken a hit, but it is still here to stay.

It’s all about helping struggling restaurants during this time

“We’re really proud to be in a position to help restaurants during this challenging time and believe that ghost kitchens are vital for the restaurant industry,” said Sood. “We help operators keep costs low, and eliminate the familiar delivery/pick-up congestion at a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. We also make it easy for restaurants to try to reach new markets without massive overhead costs.”

In addition to helping restaurants, ghost kitchens are also uniquely positioned to help real estate property owners fill vacated retail space, and even help to bring new life to distressed properties that may have been hit by the pandemic. “Most recently, we launched a partnership with California’s Westfield Valley Fair Mall to bring our business model and ordering technology to the retail space,” said Sood. “Eateries at Westfield Valley Fair are now able to use Kitchen United’s technology to facilitate to-go orders and send the food to lockers for pickup or delivery from the mall’s ground floor,” said Sood, speaking of the great opportunity to support restaurants within these retail settings.

Helping restaurants rebound

Ghost kitchens are playing a big role in helping restaurants rebound and are key in delivery development. “Broad concepts along with limited offerings of nationally recognized brands enhance the depth of product available in one delivery,” said Holt. Reliance on ghost kitchens will be key to playing here – sales forecast an increase of 25% annually for the next 5 years, according to Restaurant Business in June 2020.

Ghost kitchens are rising in popularity as an option for expanding a concept’s reach while keeping overhead and risk relatively low. “Take the time to develop a partnership before running into potentially risky relationships. Be sure safety and sanitation standards are met, and that customers are receiving high quality end product,” said Holt.

And if it means also an opportunity to have a great burger from one of your favorite celebrity chefs, delivered right to your door? Even better.

Source: forbes.com

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