Doritos opens ghost kitchen catering to late-night cravings

Dive Brief:

  • Doritos unveiled a ghost kitchen menu themed around late-night bites in partnership with Popchew and parent PepsiCo’s Foodservice Digital Lab, per a news release.  
  • Doritos After Dark, which takes inspiration from global cuisines, will be available in New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas between Dec. 16-21. Orders can be placed through a dedicated website or third-party delivery platforms, including Popchew, DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub.
  • Dishes such as Doritos Nacho Average Nachos will also be served in-person at a one-night-only event in LA on Dec. 21. The underground experience has reserved seating and features a Mtn Dew x Doritos bar, along with other branded activities. 

Dive Insight:

Doritos is tapping into the ghost kitchen trend with Doritos After Dark, the latest in a line of direct-to-consumer experiments from PepsiCo. Ghost kitchens are food preparation spaces dedicated to off-premise consumption, an idea that took off earlier in the pandemic when restaurants shuttered and on-demand delivery boomed. 

The Frito-Lay marketer developed the online eatery with PepsiCo’s digital foodservice unit and Popchew, a New York-based startup that helps companies and creators get new dining concepts off the ground. Popchew has previously helped launch brands like Bitcoin Pizza and Wing SZN, the latter the brainchild of a YouTuber. 

With its own delivery focused initiative, Doritos is catering to Gen Z’s tastes. The company cited findings from the latest Frito-Lay Snack Index that reveal nearly half of the coveted young cohort believes snacking after dark is more satisfying. The activation follows a recent PepsiCo earnings reports indicating that Frito-Lay sales volume is down while revenue is up due to higher prices.

The rollout also aligns with a time when “after dark” encompasses a wide window. Doritos After Dark will operate between Dec. 16 and the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The shop opens at 4 p.m. and runs late into the night, though closing time wasn’t specified. Along with the aforementioned nachos, meals on offer include Doritos Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Corn Puppies; Spicy Sweet Chili Chicken Bites; a Cool Ranch Loaded Pita; and a Spicy Sweet Chili Sammie inspired by a banh mi.

Doritos is adding an experiential element into the mix with the LA pop-up. The atmospheric 21-and-older event, which consumers can RSVP to starting today (Dec. 14), takes place in an underground lounge space with interactive elements, photo opportunities and a co-branded bar.  

This isn’t the first time Frito-Lay has dabbled in elevated cuisine. Doritos’ sister brand Cheetos several years ago created a “classy” New York pop-up restaurant that generated online buzz. Stacy Taffet, senior vice president of brand marketing at Frito-Lay North America, billed Doritos After Dark as the brand’s “boldest venture yet” in a press statement. 

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