Virtual brands are big and getting bigger. And they could change the restaurant industry.
This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast “A Deeper Dive” features myself along with RB’s technology editor, Joe Guszkowski, to talk about what might be the biggest single trend in the industry: The proliferation of delivery-only restaurants, or virtual brands.
These brands, which exist without a brick-and-mortar location, have exploded over the past several months and now there is an estimated 100,000 of them. These brands typically lease space in existing kitchens, either ghost kitchens or in existing restaurants. That makes them able to grow very quickly without all of the capital costs typically associated with creating a restaurant concept.
The most notable of these is MrBeast Burger, which has become one of the most popular virtual brands and is associated with the YouTuber MrBeast. But there are others, including the Chili’s chicken wing concept It’s Just Wings.
We discuss these issues, their implications and the potential risks of such brands down the road on the podcast.