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UberEATS is launching virtual restaurants to bring you real food

UberEATS is launching virtual restaurants to bring you real food
[Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

There are 80,000 restaurants on UberEATS around the world, but that’s not enough for some customers. After all, if you’re craving a chimichanga and the restaurants in your ‘hood only serve falafel, you’re not going to be particularly satisfied. Now, UberEATS is unveiling a novel way to feed their customers’ cravings—virtual restaurants.

Uber announced today an update to its UberEATS app that will not only tailor food recommendations based on customers’ tastes and Yelp-style ratings, but will also suggest specific dishes at nearby restaurants based on past orders. That way if you can’t figure out what to have for dinner, UberEATS will just tell you.

The company is also getting into the virtual restaurant business. According to TechCrunch, UberEATS has been testing virtual restaurants for awhile now to help fill the void when people are searching on the app for waffle fries or smoothie bowls, but there’s no restaurant nearby that offers them. UberEATS takes the search information and goes to nearby restaurants and explains that there is a proven demand for waffle fries. If the restaurant has the means and the interest, it can set up a virtual restaurant on UberEATS.

The virtual restaurants concept is a work in progress, but there are some restaurants already doing this with UberEATS, including Chicago pizzeria Si-Pie Pizzeria, which sidelines in fried chicken sales under the name Si’s Chicken Kitchen.

While virtual restaurants are new to Uber, DoorDash and Grubhub have been serving up this kind of thing for a while now. Earlier this year, Grubhub invested $1 million in startup Green Summit Group, which has launched nine virtual restaurants from one kitchen.

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