Even if you’ve never heard of a “ghost kitchen,” it’s possible you’ve ordered from one.
That’s because the strange, delivery-focused restaurants are often hiding in plain sight. For those who are unfamiliar, ghost kitchens are essentially delivery-only restaurants, with kitchens often based inside the kitchens of other restaurants.
The result of this somewhat new phenomenon is that customers on delivery apps — such as Uber Eats or DoorDash — could place an order from what they believed was a unique, local restaurant when, in fact, that restaurant was basically a chain restaurant in disguise.
This reveal is the premise of a viral TikTok by DoorDash driver @FrogLuver2000. In the clip, the TikTok user reveals some of the restaurants she’s discovered were actually being operated by bigger chains.
For example: In many parts of the country, you can order delivery from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings. While that might sound like a local pizzeria, it’s actually a ghost kitchen run out of Chuck E. Cheese’s kitchens.
It’s Just Wings, marketed as a “Chicken Wing Delivery Restaurant,” is actually owned by the same parent company as Chili’s. The food is cooked and prepared inside the kitchens at Chili’s as well as at Maggiano’s, an Italian chain owned by the same parent company.
Meanwhile, MrBeast Burger, a delivery chain launched by popular YouTuber MrBeast, is technically a “ghost kitchen” as well. At least some locations operate out of the family-style Italian chain Buca Di Beppo.
It’s worth noting that there’s nothing illegal or wrong about ghost kitchens, and, in fact, some restaurant chains — like It’s Just Wings — have been relatively transparent about the situation.
Also, @FrogLuver2000’s clip often refers to the restaurants as if they’re the exact same as the chain. That’s not necessarily true either: Sometimes, ghost kitchens can be run by totally different companies than the one where their food is prepared. The TikToker said as much in a follow-up video, where she explained some of the nuances of ghost kitchens.
Still, many TikTok users were troubled by fact that a ghost kitchen can appear on delivery apps as a “local” restaurant. Many commented on @FrogLuver2000’s video to share their disappointment and their surprise.
“These infuriate me. I want to give my money to a small, locally run restaurant, not a corporation playing dress up,” one commenter wrote.
“How is this deception allowed?” another asked.
“Can someone explain why they do this?” another added.
“I’m so mad about It’s Just Wings,” another wrote.
Other users were more sympathetic, pointing out that ghost kitchens have helped some restaurant chains survive amid the pandemic. Still, if the concept freaks you out, just be sure to read the fine print next time you order from an unfamiliar spot on DoorDash.
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