10 Ghost Kitchen Brands You Might Not Know Are Owned By Restaurant Chains

It seems like convenience is everything these days. With delivery apps becoming easier to navigate by the minute, anything your heart desires is a few clicks away. The latest craze in the restaurant industry is ghost kitchens, with some reaping the benefits without even realizing who is really making their food. It's a long way from the days of brick and mortar, sit down eateries.

The pandemic forever altered the way people interact with local restaurants, and in its aftermath some things stuck. Ghost kitchens are a COVID-fueled convenience that isn't going anywhere, essentially "virtual restaurants" sharing a kitchen with another establishment, strictly for digital transactions. 

Initially, it seemed like such associations were almost always a secret. Companies were quietly adding new restaurants to their delivery roster, complete with branding and marketing strategies that kept their connections vague. Sometimes, it took some sleuthing; Google searches revealing a seemingly new hot chicken place that was actually a side hustle from where you had your twelfth birthday party. 

If the food is good, transparency never hurts. Below is a breakdown of some well-trafficked ghost kitchens — and the restaurant chains behind them.

Pasqually's Pizza & Wings

As a kid, a fun house meets pizza palace is a dream come true; as an adult, it doesn't exactly scream takeout option. That was the dilemma for Chuck E. Cheese's, seemingly solved by a radical in-app re-name: Pasqually's Pizza & Wings.

If you're a longtime fan of the kiddie birthday party institution, it might not seem nearly as covert. Pasqually is a longtime pal of Chuck E. in the company's folklore, a pizza chef with a wide grin and a twirly mustache. In past incarnations, when not slinging pizza, patrons could find him rocking out as the drummer in Munch's Make Believe Band.

Of course, Chuck E. Cheese's is better known for videogames and Whac-a-Mole than five-star food; the ghost kitchen hasn't done much to elevate that culinary reputation. Pasqually's low-key eatery, hidden behind the dining room's flashing lights, offers multiple pizzas, meatballs, cheesy breads and wings, but hasn't received great reviews. Sure, the nostalgia of classic pies might be enough to bring you back to elementary school parties, but it might just not be the same.

Thrilled Cheese, Super Mega Dilla, Pardon My Cheesesteak, Tender Fix

Over the past several years, the International House of Pancakes has branched out in unique ways. As part of a concerted effort to move past pancakes, IHOP has showcased multiple alter egos through four ghost kitchens named Thrilled Cheese, Super Mega Dilla, Pardon My Cheesesteak, and Tender Fix.

Thrilled Cheese serves up a melty assortment of gooey grilled cheeses with names like New Wave Fave (American cheese, bacon, tomato, avocado and eggs on multigrain bread) and Cubano (Swiss, pulled pork, ham, pickles and mustard on a hoagie). Super Mega Dilla, inspired by the online trend of folding quesadillas in offbeat ways, offers creations with names like the Super "Italian" Stallion and the Mega Cheeseburger Dilla. For cheesesteak lovers, Pardon My Cheesesteak serves an array of Philly-inspired specialties; there's also Tender Fix, a chicken tender concept announced in early 2023.

Burger Den, Melt Down

Denny's is largely seen as an IHOP rival, so it's no surprise that the introduction of the ghost kitchen concept ha opened another front in their ongoing battle for breakfast-and-beyond supremacy. The post-bar hangout spot operates two ghost kitchens: Burger Den and Melt Down. While the franchise restaurants continue to serve up American classics, burgers and gooey sandwiches take center stage with their ghosts.

Burger Den promises "big, craveable burgers and shakes delivered day and night," with outside-the-box ingredients like onion rings, Mozzarella sticks and fried eggs on them. They're all about sizing up over there; big burgers, big shakes, and big portions all around. The Meltdown, meanwhile, delivers "Ooey Gooey Melty Goodness" with "attitude" in dishes like the Hittin' Snooze Melt (sausage, bacon, ham, scrambled eggs and American cheese on potato bread with a maple spiced spread) and the Hot N' Spicy Melt (golden-fried chicken breast tossed in Nashville Hot sauce with melted Swiss cheese, tomato, pickles, and mayo on grilled Texas toast). Comfort food will always be at the center of the Denny's brand, and the same can be said for either of their dopamine-releasing spinoffs.

Rotisserie Roast

For years, a big name in quick, homestyle food on the go has been Boston Market. They've been around since the 1990s, and recently the New England-born eatery known for roasted chicken and side dishes has been branching out. Order from the ghost kitchen Rotisserie Roast, and what you'll get is a succulent rotisserie chicken that tastes suspiciously like a Boston Market bird. But that's one of the refreshing elements of Rotisserie Roast — they're hardly trying to keep any sort of secret.

"The direct connection to Boston Market is visible in all online ordering apps and on our packaging," Randy Miller, president of Boston Market, told CNN in 2020. "Our Rotisserie Roast concept advertises 'Crafted by Boston Market' on the logo."

With such transparency on display, this ghost kitchen doesn't deviate much from the fundamentals of the Boston Market menu. There are some Rotisserie Roast-unique special sauces and healthier alternatives offered, alongside rotisserie-fueled bowls and bundles. Unlike many of their fast food ghost kitchen competitors, Boston Market's Rotisserie Roast is less of an eat-in-your-car type of dinner and more of a cover-the-table-and-bring-some-home option.

It's Just Wings, Maggiano's Italian Classics

While the vibe is very different, there are two prominent chain restaurants under the purview of Brinker International. Chili's, the baby back rib house, and Maggiano's Little Italy have the same parent company, and Brinker has introduced two ghost kitchens over the past few years, both following the style of their popular franchise forebearers.

It's Just Wings is the hospitality group's spin on fast-casual crispy wings, while Maggiano's Italian Classics whips up traditional fare inspired by Italy in minutes. Chili's successor, It's Just Wings, is still going strong, but Maggiano's Italian Classics is on its way out, according to early 2023 sentiments from the company. 

Chief financial officer Joe Taylor said on an earnings call that the closing of Maggiano's virtual brand was "part of simplifying our restaurant operations," while CEO Kevin Hochman said "simplification" is a key word at Brinker, and they want to concentrate on "What we call core four ... burgers, fajitas, chicken crispers and margaritas."

If you're a fan of Maggiano's Little Italy, don't worry. Although their virtual spin-off seems to be no more, there are still several dozen Maggiano's all over the United States.

Tender Shack

Tender Shack delivers fried chicken in many forms — from sandwiches to tenders — around the clock, advertising itself as "dang good chicken, fries & cookies." The chain has some 725 locations from South Carolina to Ohio and Louisiana. Believe it or not, what this Outback-adjacent eatery doesn't have, however, are any references to kangaroos, boomerangs or didjeridoos.

"Tender Shack provides incremental sales with attractive margins and requires zero capital investments," Bloomin' Brands CEO Dave Deno said in 2021 on an earnings call discussing the brand launch. "As we rolled out Tender Shack in test markets, it was clear we had a winner ... the brand exceeded all of our sales, profit, guest and operating metrics."

Outback's Bloomin' Brands Inc. launched the delivery-only enterprise in Tampa in 2020 in the kitchen of another restaurant in its family, Carrabba's Italian Grill. Focused on chicken rather than steak or Italian food, Tender Shack sells its tenders in groups of ten or twenty, with 5 different sauces from which to choose. They also offer the naughtily-named "Nashville Hot AF– As Fire Tender Sandwich" and a milder, more censored alternative. Don't forget the fries. 

Conviction Chicken

Conceived as the ultimate post-work hangout, TGI Fridays offers more than happy hour specials. But if the hustle and bustle is too much, the chain has a virtual option that heads right to your door: Conviction Chicken. 

The offspring leans into its "good enough to be illegal" marketing strategy, complete with a ball-and-chain running chicken as its logo and a statement front and center on its website that says "when it comes to dangerously addictive chicken, we've got you and your crew covered."

Menu items range from wings to chicken sandwiches to off-the wall dessert options. There's the Fried Slammer (chicken breast, crispy golden brown, topped with bacon, mayo, fresh cabbage mix and pickles on a soft challah bun), the Drunken Chicken Fingers (crispy chicken fingers tossed in Cajun seasoning and "extra whiskey-glaze, in case you're feeling saucy"), Cellmates (jumbo Cajun-seasoned onion rings and seasoned fries), and for the final sentence, Felony Fudge.  

Cosmic Wings, Neighborhood Wings

"Eatin' good in the neighborhood" has served as the on-and-off-again Applebee's slogan for some time now, but sometimes things need to change. This home for classic, American food has jumped on the ghost kitchen wave a few times, most notably when parent company

Dine Brands introduced Neighborhood Wings in early 2020. 

This delivery-only option doesn't stray too far from Applebee's mantra, or its menu. Scott Gladstone, VP of strategy and development at Applebee's, told TODAY in 2020 that wings have always been a big seller.

"At Applebee's restaurants, wings are a top selling menu item," he explained. "We launched Neighborhood Wings by Applebee's on GrubHub to make it even easier for guests to get their wings fix and to give us the opportunity to test out new items made for wing lovers that aren't on our main menu."

Another side hustle brand, Cosmic Wings, came into play about a year after Neighborhood Wings. It has found success with bold, novelty concoctions like Cheetos-dusted bites, developed in conjunction with PepsiCo Inc. and its Frito-Lay division, but not available for sale at any Applebee's.


When chicken wings are in discussion, Wingstop won't be far behind in the conversation. The popular fast-casual chicken joint consistently dishes out hot, succulent wings in record time. Founded in Texas, Wingstop takes its wings very seriously. There are more than 1,500 Wingstops all over the country today, but fans have a new reason not to bother leaving their houses.

The brand expanded from wings to thighs with Thighstop, launched in summer of 2021. As delicious as chicken thighs can be, Wingstop kicked off its virtual brand because of the much-hyped chicken wing shortage that made headlines during the pandemic. It was so well received that they continued delivering tasty fried chicken bites, even after wings started becoming regularly available again. 

Wingstop has powered through one economic obstacle after another, and with its Thighstop concept, the oft-overlooked chicken thigh takes center stage, showcasing its versatility and tender juiciness. A ghost kitchen born of savviness, this culinary endeavor proves that when it comes to chicken, there's no winging it. The ghost kitchen can still be found in delivery apps scattered about, although Thighstop seems to have quieted down as of late, at least on Instagram.

Slo Roast

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse is a favorite among West Coast lovers of pizza and more. Sure, the sunny coast has fresh fish and bright, healthy flavors, but that doesn't stop Californians from enjoying some carbs and a cold one every now and again. The eatery has been around since 1978, gaining fame for its take on deep-dish pizza, and, most importantly, its Pizookie desserts. Today, more than 200 BJ's Restaurant locations can be found all over the states — and now, so can their ghost kitchen, dubbed Slo Roast.

If it wasn't for a few telltale signs, you might not suspect that Slo Roast is part of the BJ's Restaurant family. This hybrid kitchen is all about the meats, slow roasted of course. They've somehow simplified a notoriously lengthy process, making a solid delivery choice for a picnic feast. When perusing the menu, BJ's brand makes an appearance once it is time to order beverages and sweets. BJ's Brewhouse craft beers are featured on the Slo Roast delivery menu — exclusive to DoorDash — as are, naturally, Pizookies.