We’ve talked before about virtual reality coming to restaurants and possibly training robots to be chefs, but now there’s word that UberEATS is creating entire “virtual restaurants” that exist only inside their app, but serve very real food.

We came across this story via TechCrunch today, but Restaurant Hospitality wrote about it last month.

Here’s the concept in a nutshell. UberEATS sees what foods people in specific neighborhoods are searching for. If that food isn’t served in an area, Uber will approach an existing restaurant and see if they want to serve the missing cuisine. If that establishment agrees, Uber builds a virtual restaurant in its app that people can order from.

The example from Restaurant Hospitality is a Chicago pizza place that created a whole other chicken restaurant that exists only on UberEATS. It uses the same fryers it already had in the pizzeria kitchen, and now does $1,000 worth of chicken sales each week.

It’s easy to see how this could drastically change how a restaurant does business. With a virtual restaurant, they can easily test menu items or whole new cuisine concepts without having to build or invest in a real world presence.

That’s not to say that every virtual restaurant concept will work. An example Uber gave to TechCrunch is the ability for a restaurant to add a Mexican virtual offering. It seems a bit dismissive to think that just any restaurant could shift to Mexican food. It’s easy to see the reach of some greedy restaurants exceeding their grasp. Though, with UberEATS’ new five star rating system, the market will hopefully weed out poseurs quickly.

UberEATS is currently in 130 cities and works with 65,000 restaurants around the world. But now will it spawn 65 milllion virtual ones?

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