The relatively recent phenomena of “ghost kitchens” and “virtual restaurants” has flourished during the current global pandemic. The notion of creating a “virtual brand,” which is available only through proprietary or third-party-delivery apps, provides various benefits — particularly at a time when governmental orders have restricted the use of dine-in restaurants. These virtual brands do not utilize typical bricks-and-mortar locations featuring dine-in service, but nevertheless, they still require physical locations for the production of their menu items and to serve as pick-up locations by those making the deliveries. The main difference between a ghost kitchen and a virtual restaurant is the latter is usually associated with a restaurant or franchise system using existing kitchens in existing bricks-and-mortar restaurants to produce and promote products for delivery only through delivery apps under a brand not associated with the restaurant itself. By contrast, ghost kitchens tend to be brands that rent the use of facilities established for the production of virtual brands. Ghost kitchens can also be utilized by more than one organization at one time in shared facilities. Ghost kitchens are an excellent way for a new chef or an existing brand to test out new concepts or items without making the investment in a bricks-and-mortar location. They’re somewhat restrictive in that they can only offer limited geographical coverage. An operation may therefore need to utilizes several ghost kitchens in various locations to get necessary delivery coverage beyond a small geographical area. There are a number of legal considerations involved in the creation and operation of ghost kitchens and virtual restaurants, which are highlighted in this article.
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