May 12, 2021

Peter Cook, Publisher

Wow! What a week for this booming industry! Some new concepts coming into the fore and some noteworthy success stories as well. Five Guys is now jumping on board with ghost kitchens here in the United States. At the same time, comedian George Lopez is launching a virtual brand with Nextbite! Looking back on the first few months of 2021, restaurants are talking about their success with ghost kitchens. Dine Brands, Wow Bao, Denny’s and many more. Marc Lore, former Walmart executive, also has an interesting concept going in New Jersey: on demand food trucks…

A lot of very interesting material here this week, so without taking any more of your time, enjoy your Ghost Kitchen Digest.

Issue #42

Five Guys Has Opened Its First Ghost Kitchen

Five Guys has opened its first US ghost kitchen, which doesn't have a dining room and is tasked solely with cooking food for delivery.


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Wow Bao’s Virtual ‘Moonshot:’ 1,000 Outlets This Year

One of the most intriguing aspects of virtual restaurants is the ability to scale at a pace unseen outside of Silicon Valley. MrBeast Burgers went from 0 to 400 nearly overnight and, now, Wow Bao is looking to grow even faster through virtual channels.


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Comedian George Lopez Creates Virtual Taco Joint

Actor and comedian George Lopez has created a virtual restaurant brand — George Lopez Tacos — to deliver his "badass street tacos" to cities nationwide by June 8. Lopez, a passionate foodie, partnered with Nextbite, a virtual restaurant company, to create the delivery-only concept, according to a company press release.


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Dog Haus Expands Its Virtual Brand Presence in California

To further grow its virtual kitchen portfolio, Dog Haus has once again partnered with CloudKitchens to operate locations in Oakland and San Francisco. The brand has also teamed up with Colony – a self-contained, high-performance kitchen – for the first time to open a virtual kitchen in Santa Monica.


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Off-Premise Sales Remain Strong at IHOP and Applebee’s as Dining Rooms Reopen

Takeout and delivery are here to stay at full-service restaurants, according to the parent of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP.


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Denny’s: Virtual Burger Den, Melt Down Brands Amplify Convenience

Rollout of delivery-only burger concept in 1,100 domestic stores shows promise, executives say; melt menu is in about 350 units this week, with more to come.


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C3 Announces Opening of Citizens Food Halls Across the U.S.

C3 (Creating Culinary Communities), the revolutionary food and beverage platform founded by Sam Nazarian, announces the upcoming opening of Citizens, a lifestyle food hall, in New York City and Atlanta, with more cities to follow.


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What Ghost Kitchens Mean for the Future of San Diego's Dining Scene

Nondisclosure agreements prevent anyone associated with CloudKitchens from saying so, but the DBA (“doing business as”) in the paperwork makes it clear: “Barrio Food Hub” is their regional alias.


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Marc Lore’s Next Attempt To Woo the Affluent Consumer: A Fleet of On-Demand Food Trucks

Marc Lore left Walmart in January. His latest venture involves an investment in Wonder, a business that is part food truck, part ghost kitchen, CNBC has learned.


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Street Chef Shaw Ghost Kitchen Prospers in Pandemic After Act of Kindness

A Grand Rapids ghost kitchen is celebrating a year in business with another milestone: its first food truck.


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Italy’s Vibrant Vegan Flower Burgers Arrive in LA With Plans To Keep Growing

The Italian-based burger chain Flower Burger opened the doors to its first stateside restaurant, bringing its vibrant Flower Burgers, which have found immense popularity across Europe after founder Matteo Toto launched the company in Milan, to the US.


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Renegade Chicken Ghost Kitchen Launches with a New Bold Take on Chicken

Fried chicken fanatics take note: GTA's newest ghost kitchen concept is serving up some serious fried chicken.


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Bloomin’ Brands CEO David Deno on Evolving the Company's Brands and Investing in Digital in a Post-Pandemic World

[Podcast] In Tuesday’s CREATE keynote, Deno discussed how the brands have changed during the pandemic, including off-premise and ghost kitchen investments.


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How Fazoli’s Shattered Company Sales Records, According to CEO Carl Howard

[Podcast] Fazoli’s experienced its most successful quarter in the beginning of 2021, breaking over 200 weekly sales records. CEO Carl Howard credits the financial success to the team at the fast-casual brand.


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What Are Ghost Kitchens, and Why Are They So Scary for Some Restaurants?

[Video] You might think ghost kitchens are a result of the global pandemic that shuttered restaurants across the country. You'd be wrong.


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Eating Between the Lines

A rise in off-premise business models, omnichannel technology, and new industry players are setting the stage for the future of restaurants.


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Restaurant Rethinks: Industry Leaders on Ghost Kitchens’ Post-Pandemic Future

With this confirmation of digital’s continuing importance for the post-pandemic future, industry leaders are doubling down on ghost kitchens. In particular, many are viewing these virtual brands as a way to test out new markets and new concepts.


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Why Restaurants Need To Be Digital Now

To thrive in an increasingly online marketplace, restaurants need to invest in technology that manages the diner relationship and delivery automation, says Hypertrack's founder and CEO.


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Ghost kitchens: Operational Recipes for Success

From the power of effective storytelling to a discussion of piano-playing cat memes – and a host of technical detail in between – Rational’s latest webinar addressed the next stage of ghost kitchen development: operational success.


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Drive Sales, Bring in More Business on Slow Days, Virtual Ghost Kitchens

[Podcast] Whether you serve breakfast, lunch, dinner or all 3, you create a “virtual” ghost kitchen within your kitchen. Suddenly you’re restaurant is casting a really broad net that brings in the business….


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Up from the Ashes: Restaurant CFOs Prepare for Boom

Profit-hungry restaurant CFOs blindsided by the pandemic get ready for robust economic growth, offering lessons for leaders in less-stressed industries.


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Ghost Kitchens Provide a Lifeline for Restaurants

Once considered the most resilient retail segment, restaurants have been devastated by the pandemic, but ghost kitchens are creating new opportunities.


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Why Food Trucks, Ghost Kitchens, and Pop-Ups Need an Online Presence

Food trucks, ghost kitchens, and pop-ups let restaurateurs extend their skills and businesses beyond their brick-and-mortar locations (and could help them keep their businesses going while their storefronts are limited by COVID-19 guidelines). But they also create a greater need for maintaining an online presence.


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