Throughout the latter half of 2019, a prediction that came up repeatedly here at The Spoon was celebrity chefs launching their own virtual restaurant concepts. What we didn’t anticipate was just plain ol’ celebrities getting onboard the trend, but that’s exactly what’s happening now.
An announcement this week from delivery integrator Ordermark added more momentum to the celebrity-as-virtual restauranteur trend: rapper Wiz Khalifa forthcoming Hotbox concept.
Wiz Khalifa’s Hotbox restaurant, which is slated to open October 1, will feature a “top-shelf munchie menu” curated by the rapper and powered by Ordermark. The full menu is not available yet, though a couple featured items — the “Taylor Gang Turkey Burger” and “Blazed Ends” dishes — give a pretty good idea of what to expect once the restaurant launches.
Restaurant owners wanting to cook and deliver the forthcoming Hotbox menu from their own kitchens can do so by becoming a fulfillment partner via Nextbite, the delivery-only restaurant company owned by Ordermark. In other words, your local mom-and-pop can now become a ghost kitchen for the Wiz Khalifa brand. That in turn could provide restaurants with some much-needed incremental revenue that might keep some from completely going under during this strange and challenging time for restaurants.
Cooking someone else’s menu from your own restaurant kitchen isn’t a brand-new concept. As I said, it’s a form of a ghost kitchen that’s employed by the likes of well-known chains like Fatburger and Wow Bao. Tacking a celebrity name to the concept is an intriguing twist on this. A virtual Wiz Khalifa restaurant will generate a certain amount of interest inherently because of the rapper’s status. And if the food winds up being tasty and affordable, there’s potential for restaurants to tap into a Khalifa’s huge fanbase.
The celebrity-turned-restauranteur thing isn’t brand-new, either, though it’s only been in the last several months we’ve seen this concept go virtual. Rapper Tyga operates a delivery-only restaurant featuring chicken bites. Steve Aoki has a virtual pizza joint called Pizzaoki. Rachel Ray, launched a limited-time virtual restaurant with Uber Eats last year.
And with off-premises orders still the main sales channel for restaurants, delivery companies looking to diversify, and ghost kitchens becoming the norm, the above examples are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.