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O’Charley’s CEO Craig Barber on how their virtual brands stand out

Barber discusses O’Charley’s pandemic-era digital transformation, particularly the new ghost kitchens they created out of the back of their brick and mortar kitchens


Over the course of the pandemic, like many restaurant brands, Nashville-based casual-dining chain O’Charley’s underwent a digital-forward transformation in 2020, with one of the biggest impacts being their investment in virtual brands: Coop & Run and Dockside Charlie’s. As O’Charley’s launches their next three virtual brands — centering on burgers, pasta, and flatbreads, respectively — we spoke to CEO Craig Barber on why their ghost kitchens work and what makes them stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

“Part of our focus on these brands has been, ‘how do we make them different stand out with a little bit of an edge to them?’” Barber said. “Our third virtual brand is a burger-based brand. There are burgers that I don't think I've seen anywhere. We’ve got one that has barbecue sauce and cole slaw on it.”

Barber said it’s equally important to have standout digital marketing tactics to brand these virtual concepts properly.

“We thought we talk about how to create that virtual ambience around what does this mean and how will you feel if you get Dockside Charlie’s? And will you have an experience around that?” he said. “The packaging, the labeling, all those aspects are sort of trying to create a sense of uniqueness and distinctiveness around the brand itself.”

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

TAGS: Operations
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