From the local sandwich shop down the street to Michelin-level chefs, everyone in the restaurant industry is diving into the delivery-only business. Applebee’s, for example, just introduced its own virtual restaurant dedicated to the fried chicken fad that taps its own existing kitchens, staff, equipment, and food in an effort to attract new customers less interested in its vintage, parent brand.
The past few months have seen fast food players including McDonald’s and Taco Bell bet big on fried chicken with product offerings of their own. But Applebee’s endeavor signifies dedication of another dimension to both dinner and digital offerings. Cosmic Wings debuted with a meal made from some of the most viral ingredients on the internet: Cheetos and cheese. Indeed, the brand serves up Cheetos and Cheetos Flamin’ Hot versions of chicken wings and boneless chicken, cheese bites, waffle fries, and onion rings in both flavors, plus a slew of sauces. The company polishes off its pandemic brand by making its new brand delivery-only through Uber Eats.
Orders will be prepared at the nearly 1,300 Applebee’s kitchens around the country that actually saw a dip in business as the Coronavirus crisis drastically curbed casual dining orders. By branching off into an entirely new chain, but still sticking to the Applebee’s family, Cosmic Wings could capture a new of consumers while still relying on existing resources. The brand also established new ties with PepsiCo as they worked together to cook up the Cheeto crusted chicken choices, even blending in Cheetos’ Chester Cheetah character into upcoming promotions.
And though the launch of Cosmic Wings came a day after one of the most snack-centric days of the year, Super Bowl Sunday, it can still pick up on the comfort food craving that has flavored consumer tastebuds since the pandemic began. Moreover, it feeds perfectly into the new online-everything trend taking over brands of all backgrounds. Virtual restaurants could be just the thing to liven up consumer palettes, especially those who crave both taste and trends.