As the year comes to a close, it’s safe to say the growth of virtual brands was one of the biggest trends of 2020.
Between big chains like Smokey Bones, Bloomin’ Brands and Brinker, and smaller multiconcept groups like C3 and Virtual Dining Concepts, the market truly exploded this year.
Recently, Robert Earl’s Virtual Dining Concepts leaned heavily into the celebrity-aspect of its model with collaborations ranging from rapper Tyga to international star Mariah Carey and DJ Pauley D. These concepts — three of which have just been announced for 2021 — are available for licensing.
Also recently announced is a new collaboration between ghost kitchen company Zuul — which launched its first virtual food hall in New York City in October — and the media company Thrillist.
The two brands are joining forces to create a second food hall by Zuul in New York City featuring rotating restaurant concepts showcasing “top chefs,” whose restaurants may be sidelined by COVID restrictions.
And another virtual brand powerhouse, Franklin Junction, announced a new virtual wings brand, WingDepot, to service the Midwest and the South. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises also opened two virtual brands — a soup concept and a cocktail bar — this month in Chicago.
See all the virtual brands we spotted this month that we’re dying to get delivered.