Virtual restaurants started showing up on delivery apps about five years ago. And in that time, digital ordering and delivery have grown three times as fast as dining in. Vice.com said they think it is changing the restaurant industry forever.
A Virtual Restaurant is a restaurant that has a full menu but does not exist in its own space. These menus only exist online on platforms like Grubhub and are only for delivery.
Similar to early pandemic trends, there are three main factors at work influencing restaurants: convenience, digital, and safety.
Virtual Restaurants use a shared kitchen with another business to cook their food. Sometimes these are partnerships and other times the restaurant itself wants to experiment with a new flavor so they’ll build a second menu only available online and cook the food in the same kitchen.
Grubhub for Drivers says "Think of your favorite local mom and pop Italian restaurant–Antonio’s–whose chef, Antonio, has a passion for Korean infused tacos. Antonio might make a virtual restaurant online to sell those delicious tacos under the name Krazi Kimchi Tacos.
A virtual restaurant order may be located in various types of buildings such as:
- a physical restaurant (i.e. Antonio’s) that's producing a secondary, virtual concept
- a commissary space that's not a restaurant, just a production kitchen which is usually a converted warehouse or generally nondescript building.
- These may also be known as Ghost Kitchens, Pop-Up Kitchens, Pop-Up Virtual Restaurants, Cloud Kitchens, Shared Kitchens, etc.
- food trucks"
If it still doesn't make a tonne of sense to you, here's a video explaining it a little better.