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Opinion: Ghost kitchens sneak into Springfield

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Last fall, I wrote an opinion piece about the concept of ghost kitchens and how they stand to shake up restaurant strategies. The general idea was that ghost kitchens – restaurants that are not open to walk-in customers and solely exist to fill deliveries – could grab a chunk of the industry’s market share due to pandemic-fueled trends toward eating at home more often.

Turns out, ghost kitchens already were percolating through a quiet rollout in the Queen City. I’ve since found out – through my own ordering habits and Facebook posts from community influencer Michael Underlin – that there’s at least five ghost kitchens making waves by word-of-mouth among food-savvy consumers.

In at least one case, a locally owned restaurant is involved.

Did you know that you can order MrBeast Burger in Springfield? What if I told you the brand was made out of downtown Mediterranean restaurant Riad and Red Robin’s south-side kitchen?

It’s true, as confirmed by addresses on DoorDash and other delivery apps, calls to the businesses and the brand’s website.

The influencer food brand partners with restaurants in local communities to put its wares out nationwide. It’s a pretty interesting concept.

On the DoorDash app, a consumer orders MrBeast Burger  and has that order fulfilled. Without looking too deeply into it, the consumer might think that this concept has its own physical location. Nope, in fact it’s made at local restaurants.

It’s become a bit of an open secret, I’m told. Getting my haircut recently at Walnut Street Barber Shop across the street from Riad, I learned delivery drivers sometimes ask where MrBeast Burger is located. It’s not open knowledge, other than the address provided to the delivery driver.

The result is an almost underground experience where if you know, you know, and if you don’t, you may be left puzzled. Word-of-mouth and searching through DoorDash appear to be the main ways of finding out about these concepts at the moment.

Regardless of how the consumer finds out about these ghost kitchens, they appear to be a win-win for the restaurant concepts, the influencers behind them and the local eateries that make the products for delivery.

Virtual Dining Concepts LLC, the operator of MrBeast Burger in partnership with internet personality MrBeast, indicates on its website that restaurateurs can earn $500 or more in profits daily by adding the concept to their rotation.

“MrBeast Burger will be available online only, thus not affecting your restaurant’s in-person dining and pick-up options,” the website reads.

I personally found MrBeast Burger’s take on smash burgers to be delicious. The price wasn’t outrageous for delivery, and I benefited a local business in ordering from them. All wins in my book.

Interested? The MrBeast Burger brand isn’t the only game in town.

There’s also Hootie’s Burger Bar, operating out of Hooters; It’s Just Wings, operating out of Chili’s; Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings, operating out of Chuck E. Cheese; and Wow Bao, operating out of Ruby Tuesday.

And those are just the ones I know about based on my research and that of Underlin.

It’s an exciting time for Springfield’s restaurant industry. Time will tell if the community can sustain ghost kitchens on top of the myriad restaurants that operate traditionally.

It seems like there’s room for both, depending on how consumer spending pans out. This could be the start of something big.

Springfield Business Journal Digital Editor Geoff Pickle can be reached at


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