Celebrity Chefs Guy Fieri and Eric Greenspan think ghost kitchen start ups could be the future of food delivery. A ghost kitchen entrepreneur creates a culinary brand using only a kitchen, restaurant tech, and partners who deliver the food. Preparing meals for delivery this way cuts down greatly on overhead compared to a traditional restaurant. A virtual restaurant is a hybrid that sells from a brick-and-mortar location but also has significant delivery income.
Food delivery apps have taken off in the last couple of years, and restaurant SaaS has expanded the customer base for virtual kitchens like these. Both ghost kitchens and virtual kitchens benefit from the software that allows them to process online orders. Using a digital POS delivery system integrated with company software lets owners minimize labor costs, and the system can even be linked to inventory.
Chef Guy Fieri has found a way to get his product to diners without attaching it to a restaurant location, creating a virtual brand. He launched Guy Fieri's Flavortown Kitchen in February 2021, featuring original meals and sides that diners can order using iOS and Android apps. Fieri's ghost kitchen start up is based on his culinary reputation, but non-chef celebrities have also started offering virtual eats based on their favorite foods.
Here are five more celebrities who have embraced restaurant innovation with a ghost kitchen start up.
In October 2020, rapper Wiz Khalifa opened a new ghost kitchen start up in seven major cities. Offering a cannabis-inspired plethora of his favorite munchies, the menu includes burgers, wings and tater tots and the ultimate macaroni and cheese, according to Wiz. As an extra treat, fried chicken sandwiches and burgers can be sprinkled with hot Cheeto dust. A choice of beverages and freshly baked cookies with gooey dipping sauce completes the experience.
Rapper Tyga rolled out a new virtual kitchen in July 2021, specializing in one food: baked chicken bites. Dusted with various flavorings, the oven-baked chicken nuggets come with Tyga Tots made with regular or sweet potatoes. Cookies, drinks and 12 dipping sauces add to the deliciousness. The Grammy-nominated rapper and hip-hop celebrity has taken advantage of the virtual kitchen trend, expanding to dozens of cities, with more to come.
In June 2021, comedian and actor George Lopez launched a virtual taqueria serving authentic recipes including beef, chicken and pork tacos. Diners can order guacamole and chips and Mexican soft drinks and, for a sweet dessert, churro bites are on the menu. This ghost kitchen start up has a twist – all the taco ingredients are there, and the diner puts them together for a customized feast.
In 2017, celebrity Chef Eric Greenspan began developing several ghost kitchen brands at Alt Grub Faction, a delivery-only ghost kitchen. Covering all the sandwich bases, the brand offers chicken, burgers, wraps and breakfast burritos. Sides like sour cherry coleslaw and sweet potato hush puppies are part of a complete menu at Bubu's Birds & Burgers, one of the brands. Greenspan is not the only chef or investor jumping into the virtual kitchen trend, though.
Award-winning Chef Akira Back developed the recipes that made Kumi at Mandalay Bay famous in Las Vegas. Kumi transitioned into a virtual restaurant in May 2021, merging with start up C3 (Creating Culinary Communities). The brand specializes in sushi and Japanese-inspired crispy tacos filled with fish and hot rice. Chuka seaweed salad, tuna temaki and Bento boxes are also served, and everything comes in biodegradable containers.
Virtual Dining Concepts is a delivery-only restaurant innovation devised by restaurateur Robert Earl, of Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood. He's partnered with brick-and-mortar restaurants and celebrities to offer food prepared in the kitchens of restaurants during their downtimes. Ghost kitchen brands can focus on one specialty or sell a range of cuisines made at the same kitchen, and brand recipes are followed precisely for consistency.
Virtual Dining Concepts finds space for food prep and provides advice on brand development and marketing. Whiz Khalifa, Tyga and George Lopez are three of the company's celebrity clients. Whether expanding the customer base of an existing restaurant or creating an entirely new brand, virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens give foodies more options and restaurateurs greater profits.
These modern food halls don't just have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Selling online gives brands a ready-made platform for advertising and promotion, and the creation of franchises is another way to increase sales. Right now is the perfect time to get a ghost kitchen going, while the digital ordering trend is just beginning to take off.
Few people are aware of the opportunity, although celebrities are taking advantage of the demand. By using the latest restaurant tech and partnering with delivery services like Doordash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, celebrity ghost kitchens are redefining the industry.