A new kind of ghost restaurant is brewing
In recent months, Uber Eats and Grubhub have leveraged Rachael Ray and Bon Appetit’s star power to grow their virtual kitchen footprints. But will these concepts last beyond 15 minute of fame?
As ghost restaurants haunt the American market in growing numbers, a second iteration of these delivery-only concepts is brewing. Looking to differentiate from rivals and drive fresh revenue, delivery platforms are partnering with celebrity chefs and lifestyle brands to launch flashy, limited-time restaurants with serious star power.
In just the past two months alone, Grubhub launched two such brands with the help of restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You. In August, the companies launched Whole30’s first branded restaurant that offers diet-compliant lunches and dinners online for delivery exclusively through Grubhub. A few weeks later, Lettuce and Grubhub announced a partnership with Bon Appetit to create a virtual restaurant called Bon Appetit, Delivered, which features the most popular dishes from the brand’s magazine, website and Instagram feed.
This opportunity is also why Lettuce Entertain You entered a partnership with Grubhub, Bon Appetit and Whole30 for these virtual kitchen concepts.
“We think that accessibility is unique for both the Whole30 and Bon Appetit partnerships. Not everyone on the Whole30 diet has time to cook every single meal. Not everyone has the opportunity to cook Bon Appetit’s recipes,” Scott Barton, executive partner and divisional president of Lettuce Entertain You, told Restaurant Dive. “This gives people the opportunity to do that.”
Teaming up with Lettuce brings an additional benefit to Grubhub by working with a company that’s been operating successful virtual restaurants in Chicago since 2017. Still, because of the cross-promotional opportunities with recognizable names like Whole30 and Bon Appetit, these models are different than Lettuce’s existing virtual kitchens, as Barton and team have learned.
“It’s a wonderfully creative way to showcase their flavors and ingredients. [Whole30 and Bon Appetit] both have an incredible and supportive community,” he said. “We couldn’t be more proud to be serving these recipes. It’s been an enjoyable experience and the food is tremendous. At the end of the day, it’s all about the food.”
Barton is also open to more of these types of models.
“They’re exciting and the guest response has been very positive,” he said. “Food delivery is popular and I think as more people choose that experience, they’ll want it to be different and unique. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but hopefully we’ll be able to introduce new opportunities like these.”