- TikTok star Larrie Merritt is launching a new delivery-only food brand called Larray’s Loaded Mac.
- Merritt and his team partnered with a startup called Virtual Dining Concepts to launch the brand.
- The team is working with a network of ghost kitchens to sell online menu items across the US.
For the internet’s biggest stars, creating your own restaurant is the newest status symbol.
YouTube creator MrBeast launched a burger chain in December, selling more than a million burgers from hundreds of “ghost kitchen” locations across the US and Canada. Influencer David Dobrik is teasing a brick-and-mortar pizza restaurant called “Doughbriks” in Los Angeles, while TikToker Dylan Lemay recently announced plans to create his own ice cream shop in New York.
Now, social-media star Larrie “Larray” Merritt, who has nearly 25 million followers on TikTok and nearly 8.5 million on YouTube, is joining the trend with Larray’s Loaded Mac — a branded menu that is launching around the country this week.
Merritt will offer seven varieties of mac and cheese, including a pizza-inspired version called “That Girl,” and a pulled pork, fritos, onions, barbeque sauce, and cheese blend dubbed “Feelin’ Risky.”
“What inspired me to launch it was my grandmother [who] makes mac and cheese like crazy,” Merritt told Insider. “It’s something that ran in the family.”
Like MrBeast Burger, Larray’s Loaded Mac isn’t available for in-person dining. Fans can purchase items from his menu online via delivery apps like Grubhub, DoorDash, and
, or from a dedicated Loaded Mac website. The food will then be made in 300 “ghost kitchens” in over 25 cities across the US.
The 23-year-old creator teamed up with a company called Virtual Dining Concepts to launch the new venture. Virtual Dining Concepts, which also colaunched MrBeast’s burger brand, partners with restaurants — which serve as ghost kitchens — across the US and other regions to sell menu items developed by celebrities and influencers. Virtual Dining Concepts handles logistics like menu development and connecting with third-party delivery services. It makes money by collecting a fee on food items sold via its network.
“We’ve always seen Larray as not just a digital creator,” said Zach Friedman, cofounder at the talent-management and music startup Homemade Projects, which manages Merritt. “Everyone does [makeup] palettes. Everyone does all these things, and we really wanted to do something outside the box.”
Why influencers are effective at launching virtual restaurants
The business of ghost kitchens exploded last year, bolstered by an overall spike in demand for food delivery during the pandemic, and the momentum is expected to continue. Real estate firm CBRE estimated that ghost kitchens will represent between 20% and 25% of all online food order sales in 2025.
Influencers, as native internet marketers, are a logical choice to be the face of an online-only food brand.
“The big draw here is when you have a celebrity name in an ecommerce capacity,” Haley Kabus, a senior strategist at food and beverage consultancy The Culinary Edge, told Insider in February. “You just have this incredible built-in fan base that’s so valuable when you’re trying to build a social presence all through the tap of a phone.”
To promote Larray’s Loaded Mac, Merritt and his team set up pop-up food trucks in Florida and California for fans to to test the menu ahead of launch. Merritt is also releasing promotional videos for the brand on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, and he delivered PR packages with mac-and-cheese samples to fellow TikTok stars like Charli D’Amelio, Chase Hudson (Lil Huddy), and Noah Beck, who Merritt says he may collaborate with on a menu item down the road.
He’s also going to release a reaction video on YouTube of his grandmother tasting the influencer version of her classic mac-and-cheese dish.
“When she first tried it, she was honestly astounded,” Merritt said. “She ate it for at least a week straight … She talks about it more than me.”