SkipTheDishes helps bring Kevin Smith’s movie fast-food joint Mooby’s to life

A small slice of View Askewniverse, the fictional universe that is the setting for Kevin Smith movies including Dogma, Clerks II and the Jay and Silent Bob franchise, is coming to Toronto next week as part of a marketing stunt by SkipTheDishes and the director himself.

SkipTheDishes is partnering with Smith on the pop-up version of Mooby’s, the fictional fast-food chain that appears in several of the director’s movies, in Toronto on Nov. 12. And the entire Mooby’s menu—featuring items such as the Cow Tipper and Hater Totz—will be available exclusively through SkipTheDishes in select GTA locations between Nov. 26 and Dec. 9.

The real-life Mooby’s location in Etobicoke will be open for contactless pick-up only. It is being brought to life by the Kitchen Hub, a Toronto company that specializes in providing infrastructure and other services for ghost kitchens. The food itself will be prepared by The Carbon Bar, an upscale barbecue restaurant in Toronto.

SkipTheDishes’ vice-president of marketing, Cheryl Radisa, says the food-delivery service will look to build buzz for the Mooby’s pop-up through out-of-home and social advertising, in-app marketing and a contest.

“This has been a really exciting project for our teams to work on as they immersed themselves in the View Askewniverse and engaged directly with Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes’ [the actor who plays Jay in the Jay and Silent Bob movies] themselves,” said Radisa.

Smith had previously opened Mooby’s pop-ups in a Los Angeles, Chicago and his hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey this year, partnering with the U.S. restaurant delivery service Postmates. The pop-ups proved hugely popular, with sandwich demand in L.A. twice crashing Postmates.

It is an interesting choice by SkipTheDishes to align with a gleefully profane filmmaker like Smith, one that’s perhaps reflective of a broader change in social attitudes towards language and themes (religion, sexuality, etc.) that might have spooked even the most fortitudinous of brands just a few years ago.

The fictional restaurant’s mascot Mooby the Golden Calf, for example, is a reference to the Old Testament story about a golden calf worshipped by Moses’ brother, while one scene set in a Mooby’s restaurant in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back features enough cursing and scatalogical language to send most brands running for the hills.

Asked if there were any internal discussion or reservations about being associated with material that might be perceived by some as offensive, a SkipTheDishes spokesperson told The Message: “We were thrilled to partner with Kitchen Hub and the Mooby’s team to bring this to life in Canada. No hesitation.”

Real-life versions of restaurants featured in TV shows and movies have grown in popularity in recent years, with a 2019 report from The Hollywood Reporter attributing the phenomenon to a combination of “millennial nostalgia” and the rise of social media platforms like Instagram.

Recent years have seen real-life versions of everything from Friends‘ coffee shop Central Perk and Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul‘s Mexican-inspired Los Pollos Hermanos, to Beverley Hills, 90210‘s preferred hangout The Peach Pit and a Saved by the Bell-inspired diner called Saved By the Max.

“It turns out that capitalizing on generational preferences for Instagram-friendly experiences not only fuels anticipation, but also generates revenue and awards conversation,” said The Holllywood Reporter. 

It’s also the kind of tactic that results in guaranteed media exposure for SkipTheDishes, which is fighting for share and recognition in a crowded food delivery space that not only includes direct rivals such as Uber Eats and DoorDash, but category-adjacent companies such as the meal-kit company HelloFresh.

Some of those companies, including DoorDash and HelloFresh, are currently in the midst of high-profile marketing campaigns themselves. Yesterday’s announcement was picked up by several prominent media outlets in and around Toronto, giving SkipTheDishes the earned media it no doubt hoped would be a byproduct of the announcement.

There could be some potential brand landmines around this program if someone chooses to look closely enough. If the program turns out to be a successful, however… well, it might just warrant an enthusiastic thumbs up from Buddy Christ himself.

Chris Powell