For an aspiring restaurant owner, a virtual brand and a ghost kitchen can sound like a pretty appealing way to start a business. You list your restaurant’s name on delivery platforms, rent out a dedicated kitchen space (which you might share with other restaurants), skip the hassle and expense of running a dining room, and third-party delivery drivers do the leg work of picking up the orders and dropping the food off at your customers’ doorsteps. But all that faceless convenience might encourage bad actors from taking advantage of the anonymity. And one TikTok user decided to see just how this ecosystem could potentially be exploited.
In a now viral video with 4.5 million views and counting, TikTok user @cadenboof claims to have started a ghost kitchen out of his house called Boof Pizza. Yet despite the professional-looking box with a logo, Boof was apparently just repackaged DiGiorno pizza purchased at Walmart in bulk and cooked at home.
The “Boof Pizza” was then allegedly sold via DoorDash, reports the Daily Dot. The TikTok video claims the scheme was successful to the point where the fake pizzeria received five-star reviews. Watch the whole “side hustle” unfold below.
The idea is admittedly pretty funny. But is it legit? There are some odd aspects to the video. If it’s to be believed, this TikTok user ran the DiGiorno reselling operation out of a house, which seems unlikely due to health code and zoning concerns. Plus, wouldn’t a valid business license be required to set up DoorDash infrastructure? At no point is there any actual evidence of DoorDash drivers waiting outside in the driveway, nor are any orders shown on the alleged DoorDash-issued tablet. The whole thing is almost certainly staged and optimized for TikTok attention.
But that’s the thing with TikTok, you can pretty much claim anything at any time, and many will believe you. Other commenters were skeptical, though.
“All fun and games until the health inspector shows up,” one said.
“It do be illegal though,” said another. “It’s a type of trademark infringement.”
Curiously, DoorDash’s official verified TikTok account replied to that comment, saying, “We’ll ask our legal department,” followed by a bunch of wide-eye emoji.
It’s hard to tell if DoorDash was messing around; emoji always make tone harder to determine. Here’s what the company told the Daily Dot:
Boof Pizza has never been active on DoorDash, as this appears to be a social media prank. However, virtual restaurants are permitted on our platform and they must operate in accordance with local health and safety regulations, while also adhering to DoorDash’s standard operating procedures which include several food safety and food handling requirements. We remove restaurants operating out of a residential address, unless they can demonstrate compliance operations under local applicable laws.
It’s true that cottage laws (i.e., rules about what types of food can be sold out of a residence) have relaxed in some areas for low-risk homemade foods like cookies, jam, and pickles. Relaxing these restrictions helps home chefs build thriving businesses, and based on the above statement, it sounds like DoorDash is permitting them accordingly. Still, I’m guessing that none of this protects one’s right to pass off DiGiorno as an original creation.
And this isn’t even the first time someone’s operated—or claimed to operate—a fake restaurant out of their home. TikTok user @airrack allegedly executed a similar concept in January of 2020, reselling store-bought frozen pizza from a home kitchen via Uber Eats.
This video seems a lot more convincing. People who appear to be actual Uber Eats drivers show up in candidly captured video for order pickups. The video’s just as absurd, but evidence of the scheme seems more genuine.
In the unlikely event that frozen pizzas are in fact legally permitted to be sold through DoorDash—or in the far likelier event that TikTok pranksters will attempt to sell them anyway—there’s at least an easier way to process those orders than by preheating a conventional oven. There are countertop pizza ovens meant for food trucks and concession stands, as well as powerful home pizza ovens (I can vouch for this one from Breville from my time as a pizzamaker). If you see “Dennis Pizza” show up on DoorDash and you place an order, just know you’re going to be getting an exorbitantly marked-up frozen pizza from me. I’ll be selling the superior frozen pizza, though, which is Home Run Inn.