Ghost restaurants on the rise as demand for food delivery grows in Augusta area

Georgia News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – You may have noticed some new restaurants on your favorite food delivery apps like Waitr, DoorDash or Uber Eats, but where are they and why haven’t you seen them while you’re out and about?

With growing demand for food delivery, “ghost restaurants” have been on the rise; but what is a “ghost restaurant?”

“A ghost restaurant is essentially taking everything on your menu, coming up with different brands for market share. They’re only available on delivery platforms,” explains Robert Whitfield, operator of Pot Smoker BBQ. “You can’t come in the restaurant and order them. You got to order them through DoorDash, Waitr, GrubHub…whichever one you choose to use and they’re just made in the back of the house. Our same staff makes them. They use the exact same ingredients here in the restaurants. It, in particular, helps during your slow times. Whenever people go to DoorDash or GrubHub, instead of them seeing just one location, they’re now seeing two or three different operations that are going to come out of the same building.”

Pot Smoker BBQ has two ghost restaurants inside of it: Nascar Refuel and a popular brand created by a YouTube star, MrBeast Burger.

“I’m a big kid, so I like watching Jimmy Donaldson, ‘Mr. Beast‘ on YouTube and he acme up with ‘Mr. Beast Burger.’ He rolled out 300 of them overnight. So, I got digging and learned a little bit about it and seeing the benefits of it, it’s minimal revenue, but it enables us to do some extra little fun things and anybody who knows anything about running a restaurant – every little bit coming through the back door helps,” said Whitfield.

Owning a ghost restaurant is more than just having a second menu and putting the items in a differently branded bag. The staff has to know how to make the items up to the standard of the group the restaurant is partnering with.

“They’re very specific with the items and, you know, they check on us periodically. You have to submit images once a week and they’ll send us random items and that’s with the ‘Mr. Beast Burger’ and the ‘Nascar Fuel’,” said Whitfield.

The ghost restaurant model benefits both parties with the home restaurants getting more business and their partner receiving a percentage of the sales.

“How much of an increase in revenue have you seen since participating in these ghost restaurants?”

“You know, that’s a tough one to gauge with having two different ghost restaurants going. I’m gonna say it definitely covered my ability to go across the restaurant and give them a 10% raise. It’s additional work on their part. Same staff. They’re just picking up something extra,” said Whitfield.

While at the restaurant, orders kept coming in for the two ghost restaurants, letting us know that ghost restaurants are not only in demand – they’re probably here to stay.

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