Who runs that ghost kitchen?

Ghost Kitchen Brands operates 25 multi-tenant ghost kitchens, many of which serve food from franchised brands in Canada and the United States. George Kottas, CEO of Ghost Kitchen Brands, with Shaquille O'Neal. The MrBeast burger, promoted by Jimmy Donaldson, a 22-year-old YouTube celebrity, is now available in hundreds of locations across the country. Credit: Adam Friedlander for The New York Times.

But MrBeast Burger isn't exactly what most of us consider a chain, or even a restaurant. In exchange for a portion of sales revenue, the brand provides the name, logo, menu, recipes and advertising images to any restaurant owner who has the space and staff to make hamburgers as a side activity. When a customer places an order at MrBeast Burger in Midvale, Utah, the food is prepared at a branch of the red sauce chain Buca di Beppo, following a standardized MrBeast recipe. In Manhattan, a MrBeast hamburger is prepared at the neighborhood bar Handcraft Kitchen %26 Cocktails.

In December, Virtual Dining Concepts, the company behind MrBeast Burger, announced similar projects with television personality Mario Lopez and former “Jersey Shore” alum Pauly D. James Garofalo, 52, grew up working at his father's restaurant in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He is now the chief operating officer of Goddess and the Baker, a cafe with several locations in Chicago and one in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Garofalo was skeptical of the phantom franchise model.

But since the pandemic disrupted foot traffic, she decided that it might make sense. For now, it seems that we are entering a period in which all the “Bachelorette” contestants of the past 18 years will have a virtual delicatessen store. Mario's Tortas Lopez and Pauly D's Italian Subs are listed in dozens of markets. Since January, at least 130 outlets have opened for Guy Fieri's first virtual brand, Flavortown Kitchen.

And MrBeast Burger has already spread to Canada. A following of 54 million subscribers on YouTube sells a lot of sandwiches, in fact, more than a million in the first two months. In December, the family followed what Mrs. Kaufman happily called for a “road trip”, a 40-minute drive to the nearest MrBeast burger delivery area, to meet a DoorDash driver carrying three crusty burgers and two orders for French fries.

The teenagers, like most customers of the ghost kitchen, had no idea where the food was prepared. Ghost kitchens, also known as dark kitchens, are commercial kitchens optimized for food delivery services. Each delivery kitchen is located in areas with a high concentration of demand for delivery. The kitchens themselves don't have a storefront and the staff prepares dishes from their menus that are only available for home delivery.

Think of it as a virtual restaurant that works like a digital store, with some internal staff members working to fulfill online orders. Instead of a physical location, your presence is digital, allowing you to reach more customers than you could have just one physical location. On its website, Virtual Dining Concepts states that restaurants that install ghost kitchens to operate one or more of their brands can expect a 30 percent increase in profits. More and more often, the food you order from a home delivery application is prepared by chefs who work for a restaurant that doesn't really exist, at least not in the traditional sense.

Either way, anyone can cook your hamburger, tacos or pizza anywhere, making the ghost kitchen concept so lucrative and attractive to homeowners and investors. To put the value of a ghost kitchen into perspective, let's say you have a franchised restaurant and, due to the pandemic, you had to close. Ghost kitchens offer endless possibilities in terms of what you can do to launch new brands or manage several virtual restaurants in one place, since your presence is online. Not all ghost kitchen businesses are inherently exploitative or obsessed with profits over labor; in fact, some may even be responsible for saving independent restaurants that might otherwise have gone bankrupt during the most difficult times of the pandemic without additional income.

Compared to other types of ghost kitchens, kitchen capsules are easy to transport between locations, such as parking lots, and behind restaurants. Ghost kitchens helped traditional restaurants recover their losses and minimize employee layoffs by allowing them to prepare food for several brands and stay in business. Since your presence is digital with ghost kitchens, you can further maximize your exposure with several brands that are left without a single kitchen. Anyone can cook your hamburger, tacos or pizza anywhere, and that's what makes the ghost kitchen concept so lucrative and attractive to homeowners and investors.

Opening a ghost or dark kitchen requires minimal investment and risk, with unlimited opportunities to grow your restaurant business in the online delivery world. . .

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