Virtual Restaurants

Starr Restaurants Opens Ghost Kitchen Concepts to Keep Staff Working

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Starr Restaurants has opened three ghost kitchen concepts in the past few months with two more to come.

Stephen Starr is a savvy restauranteur who didn’t let the pandemic slow him down. In fact, it motivated him to innovate and be creative during challenging times. While some Starr restaurants remain shuttered, they’ve pivoted to using them as ghost kitchens or virtual restaurants for pickup and take-out only.

“We’re currently operating three virtual restaurants in Philadelphia – Pete’s Place, Jackass Burrito, and Chicken Scratch – plus Jackass in NYC,” Stephen Starr told Philly Grub. “We have expansion plans for two more in Philadelphia – Wing Wing Wing (a chicken wing spot that we teased with a pop-up during Super Bowl) and a burger place.”

Pete’s Place – Kinda Korean

With many restrictions and safety protocols still in place, ghost kitchens allow restaurants to generate revenue and keep people working.

“Our primary goal with our virtual restaurant concepts was to retain employees and keep our staff working at a time where it doesn’t make sense for some of brick & mortar restaurants to stay open,” Starr expressed. “Virtual restaurants have low operational costs – especially when you’re utilizing existing restaurant spaces as we are – and if executed correctly, also have high reward.”

Making money and keeping staff employed at Starr Restaurants isn’t the only motivation for opening the ghost kitchen brands. People have gotten used to the “new normal” of picking up or having food delivered to their homes. Starr recognized that he had the resources to modify his operations to accommodate diners.

He explained, “While the ghost kitchen trend has certainly accelerated amid the pandemic, it’s difficult to predict what state the industry will be in within the next few months let alone a year from now. For now, diners are still heavily relying on takeout and delivery options so virtual restaurants are a great solution.”

Chicken Scratch

With many people still out of work and others experiencing extremely tight budgets, Starr’s ghost kitchens are able to offer good food at a good price point as some customers are not spending the same kind of money they used to on dining out.

When asked about how they conceptualized the ghost kitchen brands and came up with the names, Starr disclosed, “The main goal was to determine a name that is catchy, quirky, and unforgettable. We feel each name — “Jackass Burrito,” “Chicken Scratch,” and “Pete’s Place – Kinda Korean” — adequately describes the concept with a fun, edgy twist. The concepts are casual and don’t take themselves too seriously.”

Jackass Burrito

There’s even a personal story attached to the Jackass Burrito name.

Starr said, “I found out that burrito means “little donkey” which is also a jackass. It reminded me of when I was growing up and my aunt used to say to me “don’t be a jackass” – and thus, Jackass Burrito was born.”

Both Pete’s Place and Chicken Scratch are working out of Serpico on South Street and Jackass Burrito is working out of El Rey in the Rittenhouse Square area.

Have you tried any of the Starr Restaurants’ ghost kitchens yet? Which one is your favorite? Overall, which ghost kitchens in Philadelphia do you love? Let me know in the comments!

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