By Jelisa Castrodale | FoodAndWine.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Foodie
The ghost kitchens would bring some of the app’s viral recipes straight to your door.
Earlier this year, YouTube and TikTok star Larray announced that he would be opening his own virtual restaurant brand, Larray’s Loaded Mac. The delivery-only mac-and-cheese spot initially launched in two-dozen U.S. markets, before expanding to additional cities, and was created through a partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts.
As a go-to service for ghost kitchens, Virtual Dining Concepts seemed to already recognize the potential in pairing well-known content creators with delivery orders; it had already joined forces with YouTube juggernaut Mr. Beast to bring Mr. Beast Burger to life. As of this writing, Mr. Beast Burger is available in 46 states and Washington, D.C. (sorry, Alaska, Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming), in Quebec, Canada; and London, England.
“We are focused on working with digital-first talent by helping them create an ownable virtual dining brand,” Robbie Earl, the Virtual Dining Concepts co-founder, said at the time. “By tapping into the creator economy, we’re not only playing a part in growing the influencers’ personal brands but also further helping the restaurant industry leverage the digitally native community.”
So perhaps it was inevitable that the phrase “TikTok Kitchen” would become a reality before this truly bizarre year came to a close. According to Bloomberg, TikTok and Virtual Dining Concepts will be launching the delivery-only TikTok Kitchen by next March. Earl told the outlet that they hope to start with 300 TikTok Kitchen locations before expanding to 1,000 by this time next year.
The menu will change quarterly and is expected to feature some of TikTok’s most viral recipes, including the absolutely inescapable baked feta pasta, that everyone has probably made at least once this year. Bloomberg reports that its other offerings are expected to include air-fried pasta chips, smash burgers, and “corn ribs.”
“Look, you have a platform with a billion viewers monthly who are constantly engaged, as the numbers show,” Earl told the outlet. “It’s the first time there’s a brand like this out there — an audience of hundreds of millions of people.”
Earl, who was one of the co-founders of the Planet Hollywood chain, said that the TikTok Kitchen meals will be prepared in some of his other restaurants, including Bertucci’s and Buca di Beppo. As of this writing, Virtual Dining Concepts is accepting inquiries from other restaurants that would be interested in opting into the idea.
“Restaurateurs, earn up to $500+ profits daily by utilizing your existing equipment and staff to operate this delivery-only brand,” the website says. TikTok Kitchen will be available online only thus not affecting your restaurant’s in-person dining and pick-up options.” (And the TikTok Kitchen meals could come from some unexpected places; according to a video that went viral on — you guessed it — TikTok last week, a Red Robin worker said that they spent a lot of time making Mr. Beast Burgers.)
As for what this means for the creators who posted those food-focused TikToks in the first place, a spokesperson for the platform told TechCrunch that they would be credited for any dish that gets big enough to crack the Kitchen’s menu.” (Although who should actually be credited for these viral food trends is a complicated issue in itself.)
“Proceeds from TikTok Kitchen sales will go to both support the creators who inspired the menu item and to encourage and assist other creators to express themselves on the platform in keeping with TikTok’s mission to inspire creativity and bring joy to its users,” the company said.
I guess now we’ll just wait to see which restaurant is making Feta Pasta in our own neighborhood. Or, we could just make it for ourselves — I hear there’s a recipe online somewhere.
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