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Why the virtual brand gold rush may not be all it’s cracked up to be

Robert Byrne, director of consumer and industry insights at Technomic, joins the RB podcast “A Deeper Dive” to discuss one of the biggest trends in the restaurant industry.

Virtual brands are all over the place. But the trend is riskier than it appears.

This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast “A Deeper Dive” features Robert Byrne, the director of consumer and industry insights with RB sister company Technomic, to talk about what has suddenly become one of the biggest trends in the restaurant space.

A virtual brand exists only to provide takeout and delivery. It does not have a brick-and-mortar location and could operate out of an existing restaurant or a ghost kitchen. Restaurant chains and delivery companies have been creating them during the pandemic almost as much as they’ve made chicken wings or burgers. Chili’s, Dickey’s and numerous other chains have created virtual brands. And a lot of these brands sell chicken wings.

The brands are theoretically risk-free, as companies that start them don’t have to erect a building or hire staff.

This podcast episode, however, discusses some of the risks associated with virtual brands, whether consumers trust them, and the challenges these brands face to get in front of customers without hurting the existing restaurant.

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