Delivery -- But This Is Something New: It's The Virtual Restaurant

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 9/6/2019

  • Printer Friendly Version
  • Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
  • PDF


We are all time-challenged. Restaurant chains are seeking new solutions to deal with the increased demand for delivery or takeout. In July 2018, we posted a blog - " Every Second Counts When They're Thirsty Or Hungry ." How sensitive are you to the time it takes for shoppers to shop, decide, order, pay and walk away with their food, snack or beverage? It might be worthwhile to review this blog again.

Here's proof that delivery is capturing the attention of restaurant industry leaders. According to Business Insider, McDonald's has launched a new restaurant design in London . "It's been described as McDonald's first new restaurant format since it introduced the drive-thru in the 1970s.

You might want to read the referenced articles in the links directly above. You'll see that McDonald's is laser-focused on bringing fast and easy ordering to its shoppers. This concept is designed to be "FAST." There are order entry kiosks but no tables and no seating. It is a takeout-only restaurant. The menu is simplified -- just beverages and the key brands, Big Macs, McNuggets and, of course, fries.

We noticed two other recent news stories about how the restaurant industry is innovating with virtual restaurants. The New York Times reported about " The Rise of the Virtual Restaurant ." It describes how restaurant operators and delivery apps are changing daily operations. Aside from virtual restaurants (delivery-only), you'll find: "…'ghost kitchens,' which have no retail presence and essentially serve as a meal preparation hub for delivery orders."

Virtual restaurants are here in Austin, too. The second article was about a new development, locally. Eater Austin posted " Chinese-American Food Delivery Restaurant Expands Into Far North Austin ." The company, Tso Delivery, is opening a virtual, delivery-only store. While we haven't checked on their delivery zone, we live about 30 miles away. Odds are we will have to place a pick-up order when we want to taste-test their menu.

Have you noticed any virtual restaurants in your area? These stores are out to steal sales from your locations. If you want to sell more stuff, you must be aware of new competitors, including virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens.

Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached by emailing to, calling him at (972) 877-2972. The company is online at Delivery is changing the way we all shop for food, snacks and beverages. It might be delivery orders or people ordering takeout (whether in-person or pre-ordering using an app or online access). Either way, this is a competitive threat we must be sensitive to on a daily basis.