Guy Fieri's Prediction For The Restaurant Industry After The Pandemic

In a mid-March interview with ExtraTV, Guy Fieri stated that he expected the restaurant industry to neither return to the pre-pandemic status quo nor remain as they are during pandemic conditions. While he didn't expound on the exact details of the post-pandemic landscape, Fieri did express hope in the clip ExtraTV shared on Twitter that the industry would find a "happy medium" between the two modes of operating: "Restaurants adapt and overcome," he explained.

Fieri's prediction, however, really trails as an afterthought to the fact that Fieri has opened a ghost kitchen version of Flavortown called Flavortown Kitchen. Of course, Fieri's adoption of the ghost kitchen is another example of the adaptability needed in the restaurant industry and its an adaptation that some, like analysts talking to CNBC, expect to diminish once enough people are vaccinated to patronize restaurants again. The other argument they make is that the economics can't work as the owner loses the money they would've made from in-house dining, and whatever percentage they have to give to the delivery apps that serve as a structural support to the virtual kitchen business model. 

Ghost kitchens were a pre-existing condition

The happy medium may come about, however, because the ghost kitchen is not a product of the pandemic. In fact, as the existence of 2019 report on ghost kitchens by USA Today proves, the ghost kitchen business model may have exploded in popularity due to the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, but it came into being for a different factor: ghost kitchens came into existence due to cooks needing to adapt to a landscape dominated by delivery apps. At the time of their reporting, the delivery business was the fastest growing sector of the restaurants industry and already worth $26.8 billion.

In that context, it's interesting to note that Flavortown Kitchen is made possible, according to Eater, by Fieri's partnership with Robert Earl, head of Virtual Dining Concepts. This is worth noting because many of the celebrities who have established a ghost kitchen brand, such Fieri, Mariah Carey, and MrBeast have done so with Virtual Dining Concepts. The lifeline of these celebrity branded ghost kitchens, then, is merely an acceleration of big brand dominance over the restaurant industry. Perhaps once the pandemic has passed the landscape will establish a happy medium between the two, but the pandemic has primarily accelerated the growth of ghost brands like MrBeast Burger, not spawned them.