They are food brands that only exist inside an app! That is, until you order them.
Sometimes, the food you order from an app might come from a restaurant that doesn’t have a physical presence.
Take MrBeast Burger, for example. This is a brand that launched in hundreds of cities overnight. All it took was a YouTube video from the popular creator and lots of behind-the-scenes coordination. Even though these concepts are virtual, the food is real and actually needs to be made somewhere.
“MrBeast Burger is one of our largest brands, now operating on now almost two thousand locations around the world,” said Stephanie Sollars, CEO of Virtual Dining Concepts.
VDC is a company founded by the same entrepreneur that started Planet Hollywood. They partner with celebrities and influencers to launch food brands that only exist via delivery apps.
“We help these creators expand their business and reach their fans in a new way by delivering something beyond food at their home,” said Sollars.
I tried Pardon My Cheesesteak, which is based on the popular sports podcast Pardon My Take.
There are also colorful cake slices from Buddy V, aka the Cake Boss and cookies from Mariah Carey.
The items are prepared in kitchens around the world – this could be inside an existing restaurant with extra capacity or what’s called a “ghost kitchen,” a dedicated space for making food that doesn’t have a dine in area.
I was surprised to learn that often, this food could be prepared in a place like a cafeteria or bowling alley since there’s a lot of downtime in those facilities.
“The definition of a restaurant is completely upended because all you need is cooking space and virtual real estate on the 3d party delivery platforms to facility the order with the customer,” said Sam Oches, editor of Nation’s Restaurant News.
Even major restaurants are building online only brands!
Chili’s runs a concept called “It’s Just Wings,” Applebee’s has “Cosmic Wings,” and even Chuck E. Cheese is behind a pizza place called Pasqually’s.
“It’s bad for the customer in that there’s probably too much choice… and it’s probably overwhelming, plus you don’t know who any of these brands are,” said Oches.
But while I was taste testing MrBeast’s burger, I realized something. Because some of these bites are coming from your favorite people, you feel a connection to the food.
“We’re actually delivering something that is engaging and experiential at your own home which is something we’re really focused on,” concluded Sollars.