NEW YORK — Frato’s Pizza looks like a typical family restaurant, with its black-and-white checkered floor and red chairs. But in the kitchen, the cooks are whipping up dishes for four other restaurants at the same time.
There is, of course, the gourmet pizza that patrons have come to expect from Frato’s when they walk through the door. But there are also spicy chicken gyros for Halal Kitchen, barbecue chicken tenders for Tenderlicious, salmon grilled cheese for Cheesy Deliciousness, and Butterfinger milkshakes for Heavenly Shakes — all of which can only be ordered through online sites Grubhub, DoorDash and UberEats.
Owner Michael Kudrna launched the four spinoffs earlier this year in a matter of weeks as he races to keep his Chicago-area business ahead of a growing trend: restaurants conceived only for delivery or take-out.
Thousands of restaurants are experimenting with these virtual spinoffs tucked inside their own kitchens. Others are opening “ghost kitchens,” where food is prepared strictly for delivery or pick-up.