MrBeast Burger from…Buca di Beppo? We’re Shining a Light on Ghost Kitchens!
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If you order delivery, your food may come from a Ghost Kitchen! 👻
As food delivery apps like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats have risen in popularity, there’s been an interesting phenomenon emerging behind the scenes. Along with popular chain restaurants and local eateries, you can now order food from virtual restaurants known as “ghost kitchens.”
We order a lot of DoorDash around here, so when we started to notice the addresses of niche restaurants matched exactly those of local chain restaurants, our collective eyebrows started to raise.
What is a ghost kitchen on DoorDash?
While the phrase “ghost kitchen” may conjure up images of a spooky galley where food cooks itself in the dark, it’s actually a cost-effective business model adopted by many eateries.
Ghost kitchens (also known as virtual kitchens or cloud kitchens) operate exclusively for delivery or takeout. Unlike traditional restaurants, ghost kitchens have no physical restaurant where diners can eat, so they rely on digital platforms and third-party delivery services to feed their customers. This arrangement saves a ton of money on overhead, allowing the business to just focus on the food.
During the pandemic, many struggling restaurants were looking for ways to survive bans on indoor dining. Virtual kitchens rose to popularity during this time, because they allowed restaurants to stay in business even while dining rooms remained closed.
Now, DoorDash and other delivery apps have become a hub for virtual kitchens, with tens of thousands of them estimated to exist nationwide.
Below, we’ve listed some of the ghost kitchens we’re seeing on DoorDash right now. Note that some virtual eateries operate under different names depending on their location. If you’ve experienced other ghost kitchens, be sure to tell us in the comments below!
- MrBeast Burger from Buca di Beppo, Bravo! Italian Kitchen, Brio Italian Grille, and Bertucci’s Brick Oven Pizza
- The Burger Den & The Meltdown from Denny’s
- Cosmic Wings from Applebee’s
- It’s Just Wings from Chili’s or Maggiano’s Little Italy
- Pardon My Cheesesteak, Thrilled Cheese, Super Mega Dilla, and TenderFix from IHOP or Ruby Tuesday
- Pasqually’s Pizza from Chuck E. Cheese
- Pasta Americana from Ruby Tuesday
- Slo Roast Kitchen from BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
- Tender Shack from Carrabba’s or Outback Steakhouse
- Wingville from Fazolis
Are there drawbacks to ordering from a ghost kitchen?
While ghost kitchens can offer a cost-effective and flexible way for restaurants to do business, they can make it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they’re getting.
If you’re not a fan of Chuck E. Cheese pizza, imagine your disappointment when your Pasqually’s order arrives! Or if you’re an Applebee’s regular itching to try new wings, your Cosmic Wings order is probably going to seem strangely familiar to you.
Another potential issue with ghost kitchens is that it can be hard to hold them accountable for an unpleasant experience. If a physical restaurant gets a bad reputation, word gets around quickly and they have to make improvements for their business to survive.
If a ghost kitchen gets bad reviews, it can quietly vanish and reappear under a new name without addressing any of the issues that caused the problem.
If you have concerns about ordering from a ghost kitchen, DoorDash will sometimes label virtual brands to help you make an educated decision, noting that they were “brought to you” by another restaurant or dining concept.
As I mentioned earlier, our team loves DoorDash and orders often (sometimes you just have to satisfy that craving in the middle of a post 😆 ). So we’ve come across quite a few ghost kitchens in our time on the app. Here’s what some of my Hip2Save teammates have to say about their experiences:
Ghost kitchens can be a total hit or miss, and I have a conflicted opinion. Yes, I’ve had some GREAT food via ghost kitchens (usually from family-owned businesses that need that extra visibility/income and can’t afford a true brick-and-mortar dine-in place). BUT when I’ve ordered from a ghost kitchen hosted in a chain restaurant, I haven’t had the best experience.
For example, ordering from Hopdoddy directly is great, but ordering from a Hopdoddy-hosted ghost kitchen is 👎. The workers don’t benefit/get a pay bump from making the extra food; they’re only paid for their work at Hopdoddy, not the ghost kitchen, so there’s no incentive for the employees to ensure that the ghost kitchen food is good.
If you’re ordering from a ghost kitchen, I recommend searching the address to make sure it’s not being hosted out of a chain restaurant. If I’m paying $20 for a DoorDash meal, I’d prefer to shop directly from Hopdoddy/a locally owned ghost kitchen, rather than the ghost kitchen IN the Hopdoddy, if that makes sense. – Madison
When I was on vacation last year in Anaheim, California, I ordered a Birria Ramen Bowl from a ghost kitchen called Abuelita’s Birria. It was pick-up only and when you arrived you got a QR code to open a locker in the lobby. It was the best meal I had in California! The lobby of lockers was supported by a few ghost kitchens and a very popular spot, as many people were awaiting their orders! – Soleil
It’s Just Wings is actually Chili’s, and Pardon My Cheesesteak is Actually IHOP. Mr. Beast can be anywhere from Chili’s, to Ruby Tuesday to Applebees!
We did the Cheesesteak one and it wasn’t bad. I googled after and saw it was IHOP and I side-eyed. – Angela
Have you ever ordered from a ghost kitchen on a food delivery app? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!