COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–George Lopez is coming to Columbus, but not with a new comedy show.
The comedian and actor’s new ghost kitchen concept, George Lopez Tacos, launches nationwide Tuesday, including in Columbus. The venture is with Denver-based NextBite, a creator of virtual, delivery-only restaurant brands.
The menu at George Lopez Tacos will feature street-style tacos with slow-cooked meats and an array of topping and salsa options.
Virtual brands are being used in a variety of fashions throughout the restaurant industry. Some are standalone concepts renting commercial kitchen space. Others, like NextBite’s brands, are add-ons for existing kitchens in restaurants, hotels and other establishments.
Other NextBite brands including HotBox by Wiz Khalifa and The Big Melt already are available in Columbus though third-party delivery services like DoorDash and GrubHub.
Such brands are a way for operators to expand menus and grow sales without taking on much extra expenses.
NextBite joins the likes of Atlanta-based Franklin Junction and Florida-based Virtual Dining Concepts in both conceiving of new virtual brands or partnering with existing entities for expansion. Established eateries like Wow Bao and Nathan’s Famous are available here through such arrangements, as are Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen, MrBeast Burger and WingDepo.
The trend isn’t being missed by independents. Austin-based Torchy’s Tacos is available in Columbus via a ghost kitchen. Local operators including Mikey’s Late Night Slice, a franchisee of Zoup! and even Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern all operate delivery-only brands too.
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