April 15, 2024

How Virtual Restaurants Could Become a $1 Trillion Industry



Published May 25, 2023, 6:20 p.m. by Violet Harris


The restaurant industry is one of the oldest and most important industries in the world. It is also one of the most competitive. In order to survive and thrive, restaurants must continually adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

One of the biggest changes in the restaurant industry in recent years has been the rise of technology. Restaurants are using technology to streamline operations, improve customer service, and reach new customers.

One of the most exciting and potentially game-changing developments in restaurant technology is the rise of virtual restaurants. Virtual restaurants are restaurants that exist only online. They have no brick-and-mortar location.

Virtual restaurants are a relatively new phenomenon, but they are already starting to take off. And there is reason to believe that they could become a trillion-dollar industry.

There are a few reasons why virtual restaurants could become a trillion-dollar industry. First, they are incredibly efficient. Virtual restaurants don't have to worry about the overhead costs associated with traditional restaurants, such as rent, utilities, and staff.

Second, virtual restaurants can reach a global audience. They are not limited by location. Anyone with an internet connection can order from a virtual restaurant.

Third, virtual restaurants can be extremely creative. Because they are not constrained by traditional rules and regulations, virtual restaurants can experiment with new ideas and concepts.

Fourth, virtual restaurants have the potential to be very profitable. Because they are so efficient and have such a large potential market, virtual restaurants can generate a lot of revenue.

There are already a number of successful virtual restaurants. And as the industry continues to grow, we are likely to see even more successful virtual restaurants.

If you are looking for an opportunity in the restaurant industry, virtual restaurants are definitely worth considering. They are a rapidly growing industry with a lot of potential.

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start with a burger double cheeseburger

knowing how difficult it can be for

restaurants these days i try to order

from them directly whenever i can yol

pasta away

but i've got a bad habit

tonic juice bar i want one get one free

berry blue i like probably millions of

americans over the last couple years

often find out about new restaurants by

using delivery apps

build your own breakfast burrito

and that's when i started to notice

something kind of strange

i just ordered from four different

restaurants off four different apps and

i'm pretty sure they're all coming from

the exact same place

which restaurant did you come from

okay cool the next one's here too which

restaurant is this from 774 774 hello

yeah

what a restaurant is this from 774.

hello

which restaurant is this pasta away all

right thank you so much

all of this food from different delivery

drivers and all of these restaurants

actually came from a deli one deli in

fact at 774 broadway in bushwick

brooklyn

i have never

had penny alla vodka from a bodega but

you know i guess there's a first time

for everything huh the four restaurants

i thought i ordered from exist only

online on delivery apps

they're called virtual restaurants or

ghost kitchens and they represent a

seismic shift in the growth of the

restaurant industry

virtual restaurants started showing up

on delivery apps about five years ago

and in that time digital ordering and

delivery has grown three times as fast

as dining in one estimate predicts the

market for virtual restaurants to

generate a trillion dollars by 2030.

ubereats alone lists over 10 000 of them

on their app

virtual restaurants frequently work like

this

companies with names like virtual dining

concepts next bite and future foods

which was created by uber founder travis

kalanick approach restaurants with menu

concepts they think a real kitchen can

incorporate with little additional

overhead occasionally the virtual

restaurants have a celebrity attached

like wiz khalifa's hotbox or mariah's

cookies other times the concept is more

generic like good pizza even big

chains like applebee's and hooters are

now getting in on the action the

delivery apps themselves are too

i wanted to see what one of these

virtual restaurants looked like and

because delivery apps list real

addresses it didn't take long to figure

out that the 15 different virtual

restaurants at 11 mott street in new

york's chinatown were actually coming

from a real restaurant at that address

called walk walk

we have thai black soy sauce and we have

malaysian black soy sauce depends on

what we cook we use because i'm seeing

these are some thai ingredients here and

that's vietnamese coffee right this is a

malaysian right and

american sauce i was about to say the

elephant in the ring that one is for the

chicken wings some of the ingredients we

use the same ingredient that's why we

can do a lot of different type of a

virtual restaurant brand walk walk began

operating multiple virtual brands out of

its kitchen as a way to take advantage

of the growing appetite for food

delivery during the pandemic

so it's 15 different restaurants at them

do you know the names of all of them i

don't really remember all of them but

some of them yeah all right let's go

come on list them all we have uh pad

thai guy right thai thai thai

fire ass thai yeah pad thai snob okay

and

what else and those are all the thai

concepts that's thai concept do you have

any like just chinese concepts yes

chinese fried rice chinese fried rice

okay uh-huh and then uh western you've

got fried chicken

wings fried chicken wings sweeteners

right and then now tiger bites too right

yes so you've only named eight there's

seven other restaurants i have to check

the computer

so

on every single restaurant the name of

the dish might be slightly different but

in the computer and in the kitchen it's

the same yes that's right so it won't

confuse the workers here interesting

two three four five six seven eight nine

ipads plugged in yup that's

incredible and there's another one and

so there's someone who normally only

does this right yes weekends there's one

one one person only teacher right right

and when when he gets too busy my wife

is the one who remote control at home

really

if the future is one person and nine

ipads doing the work of what used to

take 15 separate restaurant staffs it's

also survival in new york city alone 2.5

million restaurant jobs vanished last

year when the pandemic shuttered more

than 110 000 eating and drinking

establishments either temporarily or for

good

walk walk stayed open

[Music]

were you guys this busy during the

pandemic oh yes we are very busy only

for checkout and deliveries right and on

that time it's very hard for me to find

someone to work

so

we shot on people but the order keeps

coming in

so do you find that

a person who orders through grubhub or

doordash orders fire ass tie is that the

same customer who's coming to sit down

in walk walk to eat or is that different

people

i think it's a two different set of

people

right people that who order delivery

they usually don't

really come out and eat

but

if the food is good they want to explore

more more food they will die in

[Music]

if walk walk is at the mom and pop end

of the girl's kitchen spectrum at the

other end there are companies trying to

cut mom and pop from the experience

entirely

during the pandemic all the locations of

david chang's momofuku fuku closed you

can still get the iconic chicken

sandwich but only through delivery maps

instead of a celebrity kitchen the

chicken sandals now get made in food

trailers operated by a miami-based

parking lot company called reef

i mean it's just not exactly inviting at

all you know this isn't ideal for anyone

i have to order

through my phone through a qr code

through a third-party service

that is taking a cut no doubt

[Music]

just from like a foodie perspective like

fuku always prided themselves on these

like glorious fried chicken sandwiches

and now they're trying to sell chicken

fingers that to me has some big factory

supplier written all over it

okay this is different this is like

completely different i'm not used to

chicken fingers as part of a sandwich

they're like falling out of the bun

somewhere in the back there i i do taste

that

spice blend

that i remember from years ago

the kind of original fuku seasoning

but it still kind of tastes like i got

this from a movie theater concession

stand

i don't know i feel like david chang's

going to come and assassinate me now

as opposed to walk walk basically a guy

just trying to keep his restaurant

afloat the reef truck seems cynical

turning everything i love about food

into feed

it was purely transactional so i called

up the company's ceo to understand what

makes the virtual model so appealing to

restaurant tours about on average

how many brands each

hub is servicing in terms of different

food concepts we can run anywhere from

six to ten concepts out of one vessel we

are in you know more than 23 markets and

with over 250 kitchens um which would

you know arguably make us

the fastest growing you know restaurant

business in

the world how would you articulate the

sort of change that's taking place kind

of across the board with the hospitality

industry even beyond just grief so if

you're a restaurateur and let's say you

make a great you know fried chicken

sandwich or

uh salad or whatever it is

usually

you're only so good to maybe do that in

one or two locations

our platform democratizes that because

to open up your co your concept

is literally like there's zero capital

requirement

on the reef platform

so while companies like reef tout ghost

kitchens as disruptive innovation coming

out of silicon valley traditional joints

like walk walks see virtual restaurants

as part of the long game

[Music]

if you plan on opening more virtual

restaurants out of wakwak's kitchen

i think so yes if our menu can expand

more different type of

menu sure

yes for example the curry laksa i can

change the noodle

put different components

and we can call it thai khao soi so

what's the benefit of doing all these

virtual restaurants try to get more new

customers to the door for

that's the main part you feel successful

at that yes

do you see any major drawback from doing

it

i don't see any major drawback another

comes in is another sales

[Music]

you

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