Are virtual kitchens the future of chicken foodservice?

With the growth in popularity of third-party delivery apps, an increasing number of chicken restaurants are investing in virtual kitchens.

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(Brinker International)
(Brinker International)

With the growth in popularity of third-party delivery apps, an increasing number of chicken restaurants are investing in virtual kitchens.

Virtual kitchens operate within actual restaurants, but cook food that may be sold under a different name on third-party delivery platforms, like DoorDash, Uber Eats or Grub Hub.

In a sense, virtual kitchens help restaurants optimize search engine optimization, or SEO, online. Consumers ordering food delivery tend to search for a particular menu item, like wings or Chinese food, rather than by a restaurant name.

In addition, with the dining rooms of many of their favorite restaurants closed during COVID-19, consumers turned to delivery options to get a break from cooking. This has only accelerated the move towards virtual kitchens.

It’s Just Wings

Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and Maggiano’s, recently unveiled It’s Just Wings, a virtual, delivery only chicken brand.

“It’s Just Wings is a virtual, delivery-only Brinker brand created to meet the guest’s need for value and convenience,” CEO Wyman Roberts said in a statement. “Between our exclusive partnership with DoorDash, more than 1,000 company-owned kitchens across the country and 45 years of operational expertise, we had the secret recipe to leverage our scale to provide quality food at a value straight to the guest’s door.”

Menu items from It’s Just Wings will be prepared in the kitchens of 1,000 company-operated Chili’s and Maggiano’s, but can only be ordered through DoorDash. The It’s Just Wings menu features boneless and smoked and traditional bone-in wings smothered in your choice of 11 sauces, such as truffle hot sauce and ponzo sauce. Every order also includes free curly fries.

Wingstop

Chicken wing chain Wingstop opened a 400-square-foot virtual kitchen of their own in Dallas, Texas in June, part of the chain’s plan to go 100% digital. During COVID-19, the brand quickly shifted all of its locations to takeout and delivery only, showing a 65% same-store sales growth in digital sales during the month of April.

“We have a goal to digitize 100% of transactions as we drive to become a top 10 global restaurant brand, and we believe ghost kitchens are a great step for the brand as delivery and digital sales continue to increase,” Wingstop Chairman and CEO Charlie Morrison said in a statement.

Wingstop sells bone-in and boneless chicken wings cooked to order and hand-sauced in a choice of 11 bold, distinctive flavors.

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