Ghost kitchens are becoming such an important part of the food industry now that even non-restaurant food businesses are launching them.
Bon Appétit is the latest. Once just a glossy magazine full of food features and recipes, the publication has (wisely) kept up with the times by evolving into more of a food brand that includes a YouTube channel of instructional videos, a podcast, and live events. Now Bon Appétit has teamed up with Grubhub to open a virtual restaurant in Chicago.
Bon Appétit, Delivered launched yesterday as a delivery-only concept restaurant that features dishes from the brand’s magazine, website, podcast, Instagram feed, and other channels. Recipes for the meals are all developed by Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen editors in collaboration with the folks at Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group, who will run the virtual restaurant from its existing kitchens.
Like most other ghost kitchens, this one has no dining room and exists solely for the purpose of fulfilling delivery orders. The Bon Appétit Delivered menu is available exclusively to Chicago residents right now who order through Grubhub. Pricewise, Bon Appétit, Delivered is what you would expect from a gourmet food brand: main courses cost roughly between $17 and $23, with side dishes hovering around $7.
Bon Appétit, Delivered is actually the second time Grubhub and Lettuce Entertain You have collaborated on a ghost kitchen/virtual restaurant. In August, the delivery service launched a Chicago-based virtual restaurant with another non-restaurant food concept, the Whole30 brand, to deliver Chicago residents meals based on the Whole30 food program.
Both that concept and Bon Appétit, Delivered are, while creative, not that surprising. Because ghost kitchens don’t come with the high costs of maintaining a full-service restaurant with a front of house, they’re increasingly seen as a way to test out new concepts without incurring as much financial risk. And since ghost kitchens are largely delivery-only concepts, they can reach a larger audience faster than brick-and-mortar locations can.
With its latest collaborations, Grubhub is seemingly trying to create a new category of ghost kitchens with non-restaurant entities. The company hasn’t yet said if it will be expanding these concepts beyond Chicago, but whether in the Windy City or elsewhere, Whole30 and Bon Appétit are probably the first of many virtual restaurants to come from Grubhub.