TikTok Ghost Kitchens: Shedding light on the new social phenomena

Food and Drink
February 23, 2022

TikTok had an amazing 2021, knocking Google off the ‘number one hit website’ pedestal and surpassing more than 1 billion active users by the start of 2022. TikTok was originally the home of Gen Z, who took advantage of the platform to start everything from dance crazes and to mobilising protests. But more recently, it has been the birthplace of culinary creations that have taken the world by storm.

A content hub offering everything from original recipes to gastronomic hacks, self-proclaimed ‘virtual chefs’ have become some of the most popular TikTok video makers, generating hundreds of millions of views and some pretty lucrative income from the partnerships available. With culinary content racking up over 11.5 billion views as of December 2021, this in-the-moment site has a plan to tap into the niche.

At the end of last year, TikTok announced that it would partner with Virtual Dining Concepts to launch a one of a kind delivery-based food service beginning in March 2022. Aptly titled, TikTok Kitchens, the collaborative venture will bring emerging and hype-worthy innovations to hundreds of restaurants in the real world. The menus on offer will not only celebrate their culinary creators, but will also give restaurants across the country the opportunity to get involved and become market partners.

TikTok has seen a plethora of tasty treats and concoctions posted onto its feeds, giving life to the Dalgona (whipped coffee trend) smash burgers, and pasta chips and dips. Directly inspired by these homemade meals, Virtual Dining Concepts decided to take the idea a step further.

According to Business Insider, Virtual Dining Concepts will launch around 300 ‘Ghost Kitchens’ thatill put together meals via professional kitchens in national chain restaurants like Buca di Beppo and Bertucci’s. Rising out of the ashes of what was the 2020/21 pandemic, the TikTok ‘Ghost Kitchens’ will provide delivery and drive-through orders rather than physical storefronts. The idea is to deliver tasty TikTok treats to curb sides and doorways without the necessity of dining rooms. The aim is to start with 300 locations and expand to over 1,000 by end-2022. The TikTok Kitchens menu will change on a quarterly basis and include some of the platform’s biggest food trends.

By focusing on uncomplicated recipes and items, like burgers and chips, the plan will avoid sky-rocketing real estate by sharing kitchen space, equipment and resources. They will enable culinary connoisseurs and entrepreneurs to react quickly and bring to life the fast-food trends sweeping TikTok without the costs and risk of opening up a bricks and mortar establishment themselves, giving foodies the freedom to move rapidly onto new trends and take to the “Ghost Kitchen” to reach the public.

The reason this is possible is down to the sheer volume of the TikTok audience combined with the highly engaging nature and thirst of the user. There has been evidence of viral food recipes appearing on some stella food blogs, not to mention some even getting featured on Google’s Top Trending Recipes of 2021. Due to the size of the TikTok audience, it ensures that even if only a small percent of the billions of users are converted – this will still result in a huge amount of orders.

TikTok spokesperson Elena Saavedra reiterated that this project was “to bring TikTok foods to fans, not a venture into the restaurant business.” As you can imagine with there being genuine monetary gains to be had, food influencers and viral chefs alike will be prepping their spatulas in the hopes of landing the next viral food trend.

TikTok Ghost Kitchens not only show the true power of TikTok, where viral trends on a social media site can be the next big thing in the restaurant world, but also highlight the true magnitude of the TikTok user base and the potential that can be unleashed.

Could the next generations of food influencers become the future generation of celebrity chefs? This is an unprecedented reaction to viral trends, the Jamie Olivers and Gordon Ramseys of the world can’t generate this level of traction or virality with their creations to spark this type of reaction. TikTok has proven once again, it is truly thriving on the top-spot and – thanks to its unique user base – the app continues to be a force to be reckoned with. Brands and creators are able to launch their content and offerings into the real world in real time, something that cannot be overlooked by marketeers.

If you’re a food or drink brand wanting to leverage the power of TikTok and see what influencer marketing can do for your brand – drop us a line.