TikTok Is Launching Ghost Kitchens to Serve Viral Food Trends

  • TikTok is opening ghost kitchens across the country to serve dishes made popular by the social media app.
  • A total of 300 TikTok restaurant locations are planned for March, with 1,000 expected by the end of 2022.
  • TikTok said it plans to reinvest its profits into food creators and culinary talent on the platform.

For die-hard foodies who love scrolling through cooking videos on social media, TikTok is serving up a new ghost kitchen restaurant concept based on its most viral food hits.

The video-sharing platform announced Friday that it is partnering with Virtual Dining Concepts to launch a delivery-based food service chain starting in March 2022. Titled “TikTok Kitchens,” the venture is intended to bring TikTok-famous foods to its fans, rather than serve as an official push into the restaurant business, a TikTok spokesperson told Insider. 

The social media-themed restaurant’s menu will include meals made popular by users on the platform, including baked feta pasta, smash burgers, corn ribs, and pasta chips. The offerings are expected to adapt alongside shifting food trends on the app, and will be updated on a quarterly basis, according to a company press release.

TikTok Kitchens is expected to launch with 300 locations to start and will operate out of national chain restaurants like Buca di Beppo and Bertucci’s. These companies will join the popular ghost kitchen trend, where restaurants service delivery-only or drive-through orders without a physical storefront, which exploded in popularity as food deliveries increased during the pandemic.

TikTok averages over 130 million active users a month in the US and surpassed three billion downloads worldwide in July. #FoodTok — food-related content on TikTok, including recipe experimentation and cooking hacks — is one of the most popular corners of the platform, with its videos racking up over 11.5 billion views as of December, and TikTok is aiming to tap into that niche. 

“Look, you have a platform with a billion viewers monthly who are constantly engaged, as the numbers show,” Virtual Dining Concepts President Robert Earl told Bloomberg. “It’s the first time there’s a brand like this out there — an audience of hundreds of millions of people.”  

Customers will be able to place orders for TikTok Kitchen through Grubhub, and food prices will be “comparable to other Virtual Dining Concept brands,” Earl added. For reference, Earl’s MrBeast Burger venture with YouTube star MrBeast serves burgers starting at $6.99. 

Restaurants across the country can also apply to become a “market partner,” according to the press release, allowing them to host food preparation for TikTok Kitchen orders. Virtual Dining Concepts said it’s aiming to have 1,000 locations opened by the end of 2022.

Proceeds from TikTok Kitchen sales will go toward supporting the creators who inspired the menu items and other creators who want to create new foods, according to a press release, but the companies did not specify how that money would be spent.

Jenni Häyrinen, a Finnish food artist who originated the popular baked feta recipe on TikTok in early 2021, told Insider she is “excited and proud” that her original dish is featured the TikTok Kitchen menu.

“Baked feta pasta recipe was created at a time when I needed to have a quick lunch at home,” she said. “It has helped millions ever since and now it just gets even easier.”

Creators including Yumna Jawad, a food blogger who has helped foods like baked feta pasta and pasta chips trend on TikTok, told Insider she is looking forward to the way the effort will support creators. 

“I think it’s such a cool concept,” Jawad told Insider. “I love that TikTok is bringing more light to influencers like myself who got more people watching these trending food videos and making the recipes.”




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