If you’ve ever thought to yourself that the only bad thing about the NASCAR experience is that you can only have food from the track concession stands on race days, I’ve got big news for you.
Virtual Dining Concepts, the not-a-ghost-kitchen project from Robert Earl, announced Friday that it is partnering with NASCAR and DoorDash to offer NASCAR Refuel, a delivery-only virtual restaurant brand.
NASCAR Refuel, a restaurant that does not exist but somehow has dozens of locations, will offer favorites from various NASCAR racetracks, including the Daytona Firecracker Dog, the Talla-mento Dogwich and the Darlington Pimento Cheese Sandwich. Other menu items include the Lap Dog (get it?), a Mac Dog, and a Victory Lane Burger Dog, designed, apparently, for those people who can’t decide between a burger and a hot dog and want to get both in the same bun.
To announce the project, Earl held a virtual (what else) press conference via Zoom Friday afternoon with NASCAR senior vice president and chief track properties officer Chip Wile.
A virtual kitchen is distinguished from a ghost kitchen in that a ghost kitchen usually operates out of a professionally equipped kitchen that is not attached to a restaurant. As designed by Earl, a virtual restaurant brand operates out of an existing restaurant’s kitchen, where the restaurant’s staff cooks and packages the food items ordered through online menus even as it produces its own menu for its onsite customers.
And any restaurant is eligible to apply to be a Virtual Dining Concepts provider – it isn’t just confined to Earl Enterprise restaurants like Planet Hollywood and Buca di Beppo. So you could be sitting in your favorite neighborhood mom and pop restaurant enjoying, say, veal marsala and not even know that food for NASCAR Refuel was also being produced onsite, though the sounds of loud sobbing coming from the kitchen as the chef smashes some wieners onto burger might be a clue.
Also, most ghost kitchens allow customers to choose delivery or in-person pickup. Virtual Dining Concepts offers only delivery, and in the case of NASCAR Refuel, exclusively through DoorDash. And no, the DoorDashers won’t be driving race cars, though that would be really cool.
Earl said he hopes to have up to eight Orlando area restaurants cooking the NASCAR Refuel menu, and is aiming for 2000 nationwide. Typing in a downtown Orlando address showed delivery options from Florida Mall or Maitland, both Buca di Beppo locations. (Oddly, the restaurant addresses were shown, even though Earl stressed that the food can be gotten only by delivery, not pickup.
And, as I mentioned above, the NASCAR Refuel menu will be available anytime, not just on race days.
You can see the full NASCAR Refuel menu here and order up your first Refuel Burger and Fried Apple Pie Bites for delivery tonight.