- Grubhub and restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You have partnered to launch Whole30's first branded restaurant, according to a press release.
- Lettuce is operating the delivery-only concept in Chicago, and diners can order diet-compliant lunches and dinners online at Whole30 Delivered's website.
- The restaurant's menu is available for delivery exclusively through Grubhub.
Whole30 Delivered isn't Grubhub's first foray into virtual restaurants, but it may suggest that the delivery platform is taking this burgeoning channel more seriously. In June, Grubhub published a blog post educating partner restaurants about how to drive stronger sales and pilot new menu items via ghost restaurants, and invited them to give the concept a try on its platform.
This move was no doubt influenced by Uber Eats' growing success with virtual restaurants. The company boasts about 1,500 ghost restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, with another 1,000 worldwide, Elyse Propis, operations lead for virtual restaurants at Uber, told Restaurant Dive earlier this year. Uber Eats' exclusive ghost restaurants don't operate in shared commissary kitchens, but run out of existing restaurants that have already partnered with the platform. Propis said that this strategy focuses on data insights to help restaurants identify gaps between supply and demand in the brand's market. For example, when Uber Eats found that diners were searching for poke in an area with no poke restaurant, the company suggested a partner sushi restaurant launch a delivery-only poke menu.
This tactic also gives delivery platforms a competitive edge in crowded markets by adding new, trendy concepts to their portfolio that can't be poached by rival third-party aggregators. Whole30 Delivered's value proposition seems to fit the bill. The restrictive fad diet shows no signs of losing popularity in the near future and offering a compliant restaurant menu for delivery is a compelling, hyper-convenient offering for Whole30 dieters who want to take a night off from preparing meals themselves.
Chipotle made a similar move earlier this year with the launch of its Lifestyle Bowls, which come in paleo, keto, Whole30 and high protein varieties and are exclusively available via its website and mobile app for pickup and delivery. If these diets do turn out to be fads that fade away, Chipotle won't hurt because it hasn't invested in new ingredients to create the dishes — the meals are compiled from its existing menu. Similarly, Grubhub and Lettuce's launch is low risk because they haven't invested in brick-and-mortar real estate to create the concept.
But if Whole30 Delivered does take off, the restaurant could be replicated in other Lettuce kitchens in the greater Chicago area, giving Grubhub a leg up over Postmates, Uber Eats and other rivals in that market. Grubhub also benefits from Lettuce's expertise in the world of ghost kitchens — the restaurant group has been operating successful virtual restaurants in Chicago since 2017. If Whole30 Delivered sees strong results, it's possible other delivery platforms will seek opportunities to open other diet-centric virtual restaurants to cash in on the hype before it fades.