February 24, 2021

Ian Cook, Managing Editor

A ton of writing has been done on ghost kitchens in the past week! News has come out about new brands developing for operators such as Bloomin’ Brands, Applebee’s, and Cracker Barrel; a handful of very well-written and thought-out articles have been written on the topic; and some opinion articles capture well some of the complications and benefits that ghost kitchens can provide.

We hope you’re enjoying your week so far! Please reach out to us to let us know how we can get you a spot at The Ghost Kitchen Conference in June. We would love to see you there! In the meantime, enjoy your Ghost Kitchen Digest.

Issue #31

Outback Owner Grows Virtual Restaurants as It Fights Pandemic Sales Slump

Tampa’s Bloomin’ Brands says despite its $14 million in Q4 losses, it is doing better than its competition as it launches Tender Shack nationwide.


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Applebee's Launches Virtual Restaurant for Chicken Wings Danielle Wiener-Bronner Byline

Applebee's is launching a new online-only brand. The main menu item? Cheeto-flavored wings.


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Cracker Barrel Will Begin Testing Chicken and Biscuits Virtual Brand

In the Indianapolis market, Cracker Barrel converted a store into a ghost kitchen to supplement capacity in the area. At this location, the chain will begin testing a new virtual brand on Friday that serves Cracker Barrel’s chicken and biscuits.


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Chartwells Higher Education Conjures Up New Flexible Ghost Kitchens Nationwide for College Campuses

Who you gonna call? Ghost kitchens prove to be a good answer to a few perplexing problems college dining is facing right now: how to compete with the hyper-convenient, virtual world of food that’s serving students when, where and how they want it.


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Bennigan’s Takes COVID’s Punches and Comes Back Swinging

Beyond the standard pivots, such as delivery and curbside, Mangiamele realized he had to think beyond day-to-day tactics at his company, Legendary Brands, which also holds the rights to Steak & Ale.


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Ghost Kitchens Bring Chicago’s Wow Bao to West Michigan

Wow Bao has teamed up with Fazoli’s in Walker, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek to offer its beloved steamed dumplings, potstickers and rice bowls, starting this past weekend.


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Coolgreens Launches Meal Subscription Service

The brand’s new ghost kitchen opened on Jan. 28 with its first-ever subscription service. Guests can now order “The Greens” – signature salads – or “It’s A Wrap” – signature wraps – through coolgreensfl.com on a weekly basis.


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Wingstop Surpasses $1B in Digital Sales in 2020

Wingstop continues toward its goal of digitizing 100% of its transactions and is building upon its digital infrastructure, appointing a new chief technology officer in May and opening its first domestic kitchen in June.


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Dunkin’ Parent Inspire Brands Appears To Be Opening a Ghost Kitchen in Atlanta

Inspire Brands Inc. is opening a $2.6 million delivery and catering-only restaurant in Atlanta, according to a building permit filed by the company.


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Instagram-Famous Burritos Stuffed with Cheetos Arrive in Chicago

Over-the-top french fry and burritos stuffed with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos will soon burst into Chicago thanks to a fast-growing San Francisco Bay-area virtual restaurant chain.


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Dog Haus Opening Virtual Restaurant in Central Austin

Dog Haus Gourmet has opened a virtual restaurant in Austin, Texas, according to a press release. "This is our second Dog Haus location in the city, but it's the first in Central Austin," Franchisee Michael Kim said in the release.


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Clyde's Restaurant Group Creates Virtual Kitchen Group

Clyde's Restaurant Group, a Graham Holdings Company subsidiary, announced the formation of Clyde's Kitchens, a collection of virtual restaurants offering carryout-only menus.


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The Local Culinary Has Pioneered the Virtual Restaurant Franchise Model in the US.

Within several months, TLC grew at an accelerated speed and can now be found at major cities all across the nation; from LA to New York, Miami to Chicago, and many more.


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Delivering a Solution for Underutilized Kitchens

Chicago-based Foodhaul is a digital platform that partners with chefs to create menus for delivery-only virtual restaurant brands.


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Zuul Diversifies into Multi-Concept Ghost Kitchen Tech

As it diversifies beyond its formative days as a Manhattan ghost kitchen, Zuul is now moving into the restaurant technology space with the release of its ZuulOS that helps operators manage multi-brand restaurant and ghost kitchen operations.


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Surging Olo Files for $100 Million IPO

Online ordering and delivery platform Olo is aiming to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering, according to securities filings.


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The Original Cloud Kitchen with Jaydeep Barman of Rebel Foods

Jaydeep Barman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Mumbia-based Rebel Foods, The World's Largest Internet Restaurant with 320 ghost kitchens in three continents powering over 26 native and third-party brands like Wendy's.


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What Is a Ghost Kitchen?

As the hospitality industry looks for ways to help restaurants survive today’s tough landscape, the concept of “ghost kitchens” is getting more attention from mainstream media.


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The Rise of Ghost Kitchens and Virtual Brands in the Restaurant Industry

A fantastic summary of the dichotomy between ghost kitchens and virtual brands, including a precise list of their pro's and con's.


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The Rise of the Ghost Kitchen

Big Rube doesn’t have a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment—at least not yet. Instead, Rube cooks up his brand of gourmet grub in two ghost kitchens, each of which is about 350 square feet.


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Pandemic Provides Boost to Ghost Kitchens

As Bay Area restaurants turn to the model to stay afloat during COVID-19, some are finding new customers and unexpected success.


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Ghost Kitchens: a New Era of Restaurants

Even before the virus, online delivery trends were revolutionizing the restaurant industry. As a result, restaurants are looking for ways to capture more off-premises business, directing national chains and mom-and-pop restaurants to ghost kitchens.


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New York City Chefs Go the Delivery Route

The chef’s efforts speak to a larger trend in the New York dining world, with several restaurateurs setting up similar operations in the past few years. Indeed, Mr. Becker rents his facility from Zuul, a New York-based ghost-kitchen company that has other restaurant tenants in the same Soho space.


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Opening a Ghost Kitchen? Know the Laws That Will Impact Your Business

Are you considering operating a ghost kitchen? Are you wondering what laws apply to this business model? Let’s examine the most important laws that impact your ghost kitchen business.


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Why Virtual Brands Are Changing the Restaurant Game

This week’s episode of the RB podcast “A Deeper Dive” features a discussion between editors Jonathan Maze and Joe Guszkowski on what virtual brands mean for the restaurant business.


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Examining the Viability of Virtual Restaurant Brands

Virtual restaurant brands – brands that have a full menu, but don’t exist in their own space and typically share kitchens with other businesses – have been well-received by customers due to third-party delivery options and the variety of food available from ghost kitchens.


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The Benefits of Ghost Kitchens & How To Implement One

You probably didn’t know that many of the restaurants you order from online are actually invisible. What does that even mean? Don’t worry, Casper isn’t coming for your kitchen.


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Celebrity Ghost Kitchens May Be This Year’s Hottest Dining Trend

Recently, it was revealed celebrity chef Guy Fieri was launching Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen, a delivery-only virtual restaurant with no physical locations. This may sound like a pretty wild way to open a restaurant, but he’s in good company in the COVID era, when supporting chefs and restaurants while avoiding crowds is of great interest.


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Ghost Kitchens Will Always Be Dumb. They Are Not, in Fact, the Future of Restaurants.

Ghost kitchens have been meticulously engineered to be infinitely adaptable and fantastically efficient. But what they really are is a trend that manages, triumphantly, to strip away all joy from the act of eating. They are devoid of every feature that makes restaurants great, and they are not, despite what the many, many headlines say, the true future of the restaurant industry.


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The Role of Private Equity in a Post-COVID Landscape

Restaurant technology will be a differentiator. We are in the early innings of what restaurants can do by leveraging technology. The first iteration has brought us the dominance of Domino’s, online reputation management, online ordering and loyalty, and third-party delivery.


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