Wouldn't it be great if someone was making your dinner while you take your time shopping for groceries? Thanks to a crossover between fast food and grocery chains that's taken off in recent years, this option is becoming a reality for thousands of Kroger shoppers.
The grocery chain, which began operating ghost kitchens at a handful of nationwide locations during the pandemic, just announced plans to add them to more of its stores. Dubbed "Mix Food Halls," these restaurant-less kitchen operations will debut at three Columbus, Ohio, locations later this month. The new food options are coming to Kroger stores in Gahanna, Clintonville, and Dublin.
As part of its ongoing partnership with Kitchen United, Kroger will bring at least six of 10 different restaurant chains to each location, including Nathan's Famous, Hardee's, Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, Nékter Juice Bar, and Pei Wei Asian Kitchen.
"We are always looking for new and unique ways to help our customers answer the 'what's for dinner tonight?' question," said Melissa Stimac, vice president of merchandising for Kroger's Columbus Division. "The collaboration with Kitchen United is special because customers' restaurant-quality meal will be crafted while they're shopping for the fresh food and pantry staples their families need."
Kroger shoppers can place these orders using in-store digital kiosks or through Mix Food Hall's website or mobile app. Those who would like to order food from multiple restaurants can only order via Kitchen United's platform.
According to Progressive Grocer, the first new ghost kitchen will open in Gahanna on Nov. 7, with Clintonville and Dublin's ghost kitchens—which will also feature indoor seating—planned for the end of November.
Kroger and Kitchen United launched their first food hall at a Los Angeles-based Ralph's back in January, which was followed by the opening of two more at Kroger supermarkets in Houston and Dallas.
Kitchen United isn't Kroger's only partner in its ghost kitchen efforts. The grocer first teamed up with ghost kitchen operator ClusterTruck to pilot a meal delivery service in 2019. After deciding to discontinue it, the companies opened two in-store ghost kitchens—one in metropolitan Indianapolis, and another outside of Columbus, Ohio—in October of 2020.