Image Credits: Virtual Dining Concepts
TikTok is preparing to launch a new service that will turn its viral food videos into meals you can actually order and enjoy. The social app is partnering with Virtual Dining Concepts and Grubhub to launch “TikTok Kitchen”-branded delivery-only restaurants across the United States next year, as first reported by Bloomberg. The menu at the restaurants will draw upon the most popular viral food posts on TikTok, which people can then have delivered to their door via Grubhub. TikTok plans to launch around 300 locations that will start delivering dishes in March, with plans to open more than 1,000 restaurants by the end of next year.
The initial menu will include top TikTok viral dishes like baked feta pasta, a smash burger, corn ribs and pasta chips. The baked feta, in particular, gained incredible traction in 2021 as Google reported it was the most-searched dish of the year after it gained immense popularity on TikTok. Going forward, the menu at the locations will be amended quarterly with new dishes that have started to go viral. It’s unknown whether TikTok will choose to make some popular dishes, like the baked feta pasta, permanent offerings on the menu.
TikTok confirmed to TechCrunch that creators will be receiving credit for dishes within the menu and will be featured prominently throughout the partnership.
“Proceeds from TikTok Kitchen sales will go to both support the creators who inspired the menu item and to encourage and assist other creators to express themselves on the platform in keeping with TikTok’s mission to inspire creativity and bring joy to its users,” TikTok said.
The company clarified, however, that this was more of a campaign to bring TikTok food to fans, and not TikTok’s venturing into the restaurant business. That means the company likely sees this as more of a marketing effort, rather than a long-term business. TikTok didn’t say how long this “campaign” will run, or provide other details about the ordering process, or how the menu items will be selected and refreshed.
Founded in 2018, Virtual Dining Concepts runs several delivery-only ghost restaurants and has partnered with many notable individuals, including YouTube celebrity MrBeast (who runs his own virtual restaurant business, MrBeast Burger), Guy Fieri, Steve Harvey, Mariah Carey, Tyga and others. The company also has a partnership with Barstool Sports. In October, Virtual Dining Concepts raised $20 million in Series A funding, saying it planned to use the investment to fund additional technology, enhance corporate infrastructure and provide additional marketing and customer support.
TikTok is widely known for popular food trends and is home to many viral recipes that are often reshared on other social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The short-form video app’s latest partnership indicates that the company is looking to take advantage of this popularity to raise the profile of its brand and those of its creators who are fueling the food content on its app.
Update: The article was updated to include information about TikTok’s partnership with Grubhub.