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In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “ The Finance Guy” chat with Robert Earl, Co-Founder of Virtual Dining Concepts and Chairman of Earl Enterprises, to discuss virtual brands, how influencers bring value to operators, and the company’s latest concept.

Earl talks about growing up in the United Kingdom and how being the son of a very famous singer exposed him early on to show business, talent and brands.


Earl jokes that he was reluctant to go into show business or to work at all, but he soon realized that he needed to find something that would benefit his future. He shares that once he discovered hospitality, he decided to study the field at University.

When asked about his career path following school, Earl talks about working at two of London’s most famous hotels. He shares that he worked in every department, gaining lessons and insights which he says gave him the foundational experiences that he still calls upon to this day. By the age of 22, Earl shares that he was developing a Medieval concept that would become the most successful restaurant in London. Earl’s impressive resume includes founding Planet Hollywood, expanding brands, such as Buca di Beppo, and launching new concepts like Chicken Guy!. He says, “I realized that hospitality was for me, and I’ve had the beauty of working all around the world with every type of level of restaurant food operation, and that makes me who I am now.”

They discuss the massive growth in the virtual brands space. Earl predicts that within the next few years, every restaurant will have a virtual brand, and he believes that consumers will not only know about these brands, but they will actively seek them out.

He talks about founding Virtual Dining Concepts and how the company is able to help operators increase their revenue streams by utilizing what they already have existing in their restaurants. He says, “When we talk to a restaurant and we identify their equipment, their labor, which corners of the kitchen are quieter than others, what skus do they have, what produce do they have that has a limited shelf life, and with all of that knowledge, as restaurateurs, we come back to those restaurants and say, ‘Boy do we have a brand for you.’


Earl shares what’s next for the company and he teases a bit about an upcoming collaboration with TikTok, and talks about why working with influencers and celebrities can bring tremendous value to a restaurant’s virtual brands. He shares breaking news about a new concept launching, Steve Harvey’s Family Food, which will feature a menu of both healthy and indulgent recipes, as well as a signature drink developed with the restaurant’s namesake. Earl shares the exciting news about a mega, multi-concept opening in the heart of New York City. The four story concept will include Planet Hollywood, Chicken Guy!, and an entire floor of constantly changing brands, completely dedicated to curbside pick-up, to-go and third party delivery partners.

Tune in to learn more. You can subscribe and listen to Hospitality Hangout Podcast on Spotify or directly on the Foodable Network.

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