What Is TikTok Kitchens?
On December 17, the video-sharing platform TikTok Inc. announced that it is teaming up with Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC) to launch TikTok Kitchens. The goal is to create a delivery-only service that will craft some of the most viral food concoctions on the app. You can expect an appearance from the viral baked feta pasta, air-fried corn ribs, cheese-covered pasta chips, the smash burger, and more. Earl says prices will be “comparable to other Virtual Dining Concept brands.” For reference, a MrBeast Burger starts at $6.99.
According to Bloomberg, TikTok and VDC will open 300 locations across the US on launch and plan on expanding to nearly 1,000 by the end of 2022. TikTok Kitchens will operate out of existing restaurants similar to a ghost kitchen service. Some of the restaurant chains included in this venture are owned by VDC co-founder Robert Earl and include Buca di Beppo and Bertucci’s.
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What is a Ghost Kitchen?
Ghost kitchens have exploded since the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020. They’ve popped up as a business model in response to the rapid growth in consumer demand for restaurant delivery meals, the rising usage of third-party delivery apps, and the lower costs incurred by using kitchen facilities located outside of high-rent, high-foot-trafficked urban locations.
Using a ghost kitchen allows established restaurants with dining-in service to expand their delivery operations without adding stress to the existing kitchen, frees up parking taken by the delivery vehicles, and allows a restaurant to enter new areas with lower costs. Check out this article by The Verge about virtual brands and how they’re changing our understanding of food delivery.
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VDC saw success with the MrBeast Burger which launched near the tail end of 2020. The MrBeast Burger sold 1 million burgers in three months, and now 1,500 locations exist in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. He foresees success on par with MrBeast. “Look, you have a platform with a billion viewers monthly who are constantly engaged, as the numbers show,” says Earl. “It’s the first time there’s a brand like this out there—an audience of hundreds of millions of people.”
“Creators will be receiving credit for dishes within the menu and will be featured prominently throughout [the] promotion,” said TikTok spokesperson Elena Saavedra in a statement to The Verge. “To be clear, this is a campaign to bring TikTok foods to fans, not a venture into the restaurant business.” With the emergence of the celebrity meal, the rise of ghost kitchens, and internet trends taking a foothold in the physical world – it’s an exciting time to be a foodie.