For all of us reliant on GrubHub, DoorDash, Seamless, and Postmates to get dinner on our table, faster delivery times could soon be on their way. During Wendy's 2019 Investor Day, Chief Development Officer Abigail Pringle announced dark kitchens, also called ghost or cloud kitchens, would become a significant part of the fast food chain's expansion strategy, Business Insider reports, adding another familiar name to the list of food brands leaning in to the business model. If the term has you scratching your head (there are, after all, about a dozen synonyms), here's what you need to know.
What is a ghost kitchen?
QSR describes it well: "Virtual—also called cloud or ghost—kitchens are stripped-down commercial cooking spaces with no dine-in option." They give restaurants all the resources they need to crank out more food (commercial equipment, dishwashers, cold storage, etc.) at a lower cost.
Restaurants, caterers, and fast food chains can rent out space in facilities designed to make food specifically for delivery or catering. This helps free up space and time in existing dine-in kitchens and offers an alternate option to renting a storefront for up-and-coming chefs.
Who's using them?
This month, DoorDash opened its first shared kitchen in Northern California; initial tenants include The Halal Guys and Nation’s Giant Hamburgers. Red Lobster is developing a ghost kitchen in the Midwest, CNBC reports, while Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and sweetgreen are also figuring out ways to incorporate the concept into their business model. Starbucks already opened several such kitchens in China, with a walk-up, mobile-order-only location opening soon in New York.
Kitchen United, a leading company in the space, has or is developing kitchens in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Pasadena, San Francisco, and Scottsdale.
What will it mean for me?
As more food brands adopt the model, it should improve your experience both dining in restaurants and ordering food for delivery, as there will be dedicated kitchens for each option. For those living in cities with expensive real estate, it could also mean your favorite chain opening a location (or expanding its delivery options) near you. Alternatively, if you live in an area with lots of drive-thrus, it could potentially mean fewer brick-and-mortars.
Lastly, it could help smaller brands expand their operations; i.e., that coffee shop across town you love could have the capability to send its scones straight to your doorstep. And because of the lower barrier to entry, it opens the door for new and different foods to make their way to your "New on UberEats" section, even if you never drive past their storefront.
You Might Also Like