Campisi, V. (2021, October 3). Barstool Sports aims to become major player in Virtual Kitchens. The Food Institute. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://foodinstitute.com/focus/barstool-sports-aims-to-become-major-player-in-virtual-kitchens/.
Dave Portnoy, founder of the pop culture site Barstool Sports, is jumping in on the virtual ghost kitchen trend, partnering with Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl to launch a virtual restaurant concept built around the Barstool brand, reported Bloomberg (Sept. 22).
BARSTOOL BITES JOINS GROWING LIST OF VIRTUAL BRANDS
Debuting next month, Barstool Bites will offer 14-inch sandwiches, spicy chicken wings, dips and buckets of flavored popcorn. Though the concept will follow the traditional ghost kitchen playbook for now, physical restaurants and Barstool food trucks are also on the horizon.
“We’re going to experiment with giving our fans the ability to order the types of food we eat when we’re sitting on our couch watching football on Saturdays and Sundays,” said Erika Nardini, Barstool’s CEO, as reported by Bloomberg.
Hundreds of local restaurants will prepare Barstool’s food and deliver via third-party apps like Grubhub and DoorDash. Barstool Bites follows in the footsteps of other pop culture brands and personalities getting into ghost kitchens, such as Mr. Beast Burger, which launched as a virtual brand last December with over 300 locations.
Portnoy picked an opportune time to enter the market, as ghost kitchens are continuing in their pandemic-boosted boom. In the 12 months through June of this year, delivery-only restaurant orders in the U.S. jumped 66%, while on-premises dining fell 39%, according to NPD Group.
NOT BARSTOOL’S FIRST FORAY INTO FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Though Barstool Bites is a new venture, the media company has been making its way into the food and beverage space over the last several years.
Portnoy is famous for his popular One Bite Pizza review videos. The brand has become so synonymous with pizza that it even launched a frozen line with Walmart earlier this month.
The company has also been making moves in the beverage space. In 2019, the company partnered with New Amsterdam Vodka to launch a spirit called Pink Whitney, while in 2020, Barstool teamed up with High Noon for new flavors and a media partnership. Additionally, Barstool inked a deal with Revitalyte this year to add its own offering of the brand’s electrolyte recovery drink.
Joseph, S. (2021, August 27). Virtual dining CONCEPTS partners with NASCAR to offer racetrack eats. Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide. https://www.scottjosephorlando.com/news/5745-virtual-dining-concepts-partners-with-nascar-to-offer-racetrack-eats.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself that the only bad thing about the NASCAR experience is that you can only have food from the track concession stands on race days, I’ve got big news for you.
Virtual Dining Concepts, the not-a-ghost-kitchen project from Robert Earl, announced Friday that it is partnering with NASCAR and DoorDash to offer NASCAR Refuel, a delivery-only virtual restaurant brand.
NASCAR Refuel, a restaurant that does not exist but somehow has dozens of locations, will offer favorites from various NASCAR racetracks, including the Daytona Firecracker Dog, the Talla-mento Dogwich and the Darlington Pimento Cheese Sandwich. Other menu items include the Lap Dog (get it?), a Mac Dog, and a Victory Lane Burger Dog, designed, apparently, for those people who can’t decide between a burger and a hot dog and want to get both in the same bun.
To announce the project, Earl held a virtual (what else) press conference via Zoom Friday afternoon with NASCAR senior vice president and chief track properties officer Chip Wile.
A virtual kitchen is distinguished from a ghost kitchen in that a ghost kitchen usually operates out of a professionally equipped kitchen that is not attached to a restaurant. As designed by Earl, a virtual restaurant brand operates out of an existing restaurant’s kitchen, where the restaurant’s staff cooks and packages the food items ordered through online menus even as it produces its own menu for its onsite customers.
And any restaurant is eligible to apply to be a Virtual Dining Concepts provider – it isn’t just confined to Earl Enterprise restaurants like Planet Hollywood and Buca di Beppo. So you could be sitting in your favorite neighborhood mom and pop restaurant enjoying, say, veal marsala and not even know that food for NASCAR Refuel was also being produced onsite, though the sounds of loud sobbing coming from the kitchen as the chef smashes some wieners onto burger might be a clue.
Also, most ghost kitchens allow customers to choose delivery or in-person pickup. Virtual Dining Concepts offers only delivery, and in the case of NASCAR Refuel, exclusively through DoorDash. And no, the DoorDashers won’t be driving race cars, though that would be really cool.
Earl said he hopes to have up to eight Orlando area restaurants cooking the NASCAR Refuel menu, and is aiming for 2000 nationwide. Typing in a downtown Orlando address showed delivery options from Florida Mall or Maitland, both Buca di Beppo locations. (Oddly, the restaurant addresses were shown, even though Earl stressed that the food can be gotten only by delivery, not pickup.
And, as I mentioned above, the NASCAR Refuel menu will be available anytime, not just on race days.
You can see the full NASCAR Refuel menu here and order up your first Refuel Burger and Fried Apple Pie Bites for delivery tonight.