Restaurant Dive would like to know how your business is approaching virtual brands.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual brands framed themselves as a way to boost off-premise revenue using existing kitchen space. In early 2022, 41% of independent restaurants surveyed by Grubhub and Technomic said they operated a virtual brand. But since the end of pandemic restrictions, there has been a shift in the market, with some chains — including Brinker, Red Robin and Applebee’s — either shuttering or ceasing to expand their virtual concepts.
Additionally, virtual brand operator Nextbite endured at least three rounds of layoffs before its ghost kitchen operation was sold to C3 founder Sam Nazarian, which could be an indicator of the sector’s health. But the retreat from virtual brands is far from universal. Some restaurant companies, including Woworks, are doubling down. WoWorks just added seven virtual brands across its chains, for example. Hooters also created a digital food court to house its three virtual brands.
Answer the survey linked below to tell us if virtual brands are part of your current or past operations, and how your experience with these concepts has been. The results of this survey will be published next week.