PHOENIX — There are dozens of new restaurants in the Valley, but you won't be able to find any of them at a physical address. That is because they only exist online.
From "secret kitchens" to "ghost kitchens", "host kitchens", "virtual restaurants" or "cloud kitchens", these restaurants have saved the day for many local restaurants that have struggled to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurants live in food delivery apps and on the internet.
"There is no brick or mortar for those," said Andi Ott, a franchisee of the Dog Haus Biergarten in Gilbert.
"We can get it delivered to you or you can also come and pick it up," said Keith Castro, Vice President of Food and Beverage for Concept Entertainment Hospitality that owns several restaurants in the Valley.
Many national chain restaurants are also hosting these ghost kitchens on third-party delivery apps. You may have heard of Denny's, Red Robin's, or Chili's. All three of these restaurants have separate "virtual restaurants" under the names of "Burger Den", "Donatos Pizza" and "It's Just Wings" that you will find on your Door Dash, Grubhub, Postmates, or Uber Eats apps.
"People are now looking to delivery and making purchases based on their third-party delivery apps," said Ott.
Her restaurant was one of many that were hit hard during the pandemic.
"The pandemic hit, and stores had to close, we had reduced occupancy for dine-in," said Ott.
When restaurants switched to a delivery-only model, Dog Haus Biergarten launched several new 'food concepts' under different names on the third-party delivery apps. Ott said it was something they had already been working on, but they were able to push up the launch dates and make it a priority.
"We have Bad Ass Breakfast Burritos, Bad Mutha Clucka and Plant B," said Ott.
Each 'brand', Ott explained, is catered to a different customer.
"If you're vegetarian for instance, you're probably not going to look at Dog Haus or even scroll down to our plant-based section. You're going to search for plant-based restaurants and there you'll find Plant B," explained Ott.
Similarly, those looking for a breakfast burrito might not think about a place known for its gourmet hotdogs as a go-to option, but they may be interested in trying out their "virtual kitchen", Bad Ass Burritos.
Most customers may not realize the food for Plant B and Bad Ass Burritos was all being cooked in the same kitchen as Dog Haus Biergarten.
Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill was also taking it a step further by creating an online "food hall" experience called Central Kitchen.