OnTrend Concepts

July 29, 2021

Peter Cook, Editor

Virtual brands and ghost/cloud kitchens continue to grow.  So many restaurants are pivoting to this lower-risk model that you have to wonder if the low barriers to entry might cause a problem for the larger players?  Is the growth rate sustainable?  Can we maintain the food quality that we need to for long-term success?  Can we expand the product offerings?  Can we get the packaging right?  All these issues need to be addressed.  And for those who have invested in these models, you have to plan for the inevitable consolidation that comes after such rapid growth.  It’s going to be interesting to watch!


This week we initially had 50+ articles that we found from the past week to share.  However, we decided to cut the 15+ articles which were more introductory (“What is a Ghost Kitchen?”) since those of you subscribed to the Ghost Kitchen Digest most likely already have a strong understanding of the concepts.  We tried, instead, to focus the Digest on more news, trends, and informative articles.  Please let us know if you would prefer we include the introductory articles.


And please forward the newsletter to your colleagues, clients, and other contacts who might be interested in seeing a quick summary of all the pertinent news each week in one place.  They can subscribe here.


And now, the news…

Issue #53

C3’s Sam Nazarian Has Big Plans for Ghost Kitchen Company

When Sam Nazarian, started to notice several industries trending toward direct-to-consumer offerings, the hospitality industry veteran went with the flow and founded the ghost kitchen company Creating Culinary Communities.

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Food Tech Platform C3 Questions The Long-Term Viability Of Legacy Restaurants

Sam Nazarian said in an interview. “As we move into a post-pandemic era, we’re going to see many more brick-and-mortar concepts operating eight to 10 additional delivery-only brands via ghost or digital kitchens.”

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Growth, Guests and Ghost Kitchens: C3 Navigates a Future of Possibilities

Some people might tell you the restaurant industry is at a crossroads. Adam Rinella, however, will be the first to tell you that it’s actually at the intersection of about a dozen crossroads.

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Capriotti’s runs headfirst into its problems — and thrives

A local marketing campaign turned pandemic sales around at the fast-casual brand.

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Tech Roundup: Nathan’s Famous Bends the Rules of Virtual Brands

Its latest concept, Arthur Treacher's, will soon feature items from another chain on its menu. Also, Zenput raises $27 million, Slice hires a CFO and more.

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Nathan’s Famous Doubles the Number of Ghost Kitchens Worldwide Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Iconic New York Brand Opens Over 200 Ghost Restaurants Since 2020, Bringing the brand’s total number of locations to over 400.

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Milwaukee Brewers, EatStreet launch delivery-only concept to join a trending industry

The virtual restaurant concept reflects a trend in the industry that accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Wendy’s Leader Shares Tips to Pioneer New Growth Channels

With more than 6,500 restaurants operating in the U.S., 29 countries and U.S. territories, the QSR franchise also found it important to partner with franchisees with their delivery-only offerings, Coppler added, even abroad.

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‘Quesada Burritos & Tacos’ Sees Spectacular Growth in Canada with Ongoing Aggressive Expansion

It recently surpassed 150 locations in Canada and is on target to be at about 170 by the end of the year.

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More than a dozen cloud-kitchen units at Lavender's CT Hub 2 change hands

The Business Times first reported in May that design and construction firm Chiu Teng Group is understood to be selling its portfolio of 29 ground-floor cloud kitchen units in CT Hub 2 via expression of interest.

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Gourmet Dining’s George Kuzma on the tech that’s reforming campus dining

In episode four of our Technology and the Evolution of Campus Dining series with Grubhub, we speak with George Kuzma, Vice President for Business Development, Gourmet Dining about some of the technologies that are changing the campus dining experience.

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Notch Raises $10M USD to Fuel Ongoing Innovation and Rapid US Expansion of the First, All-in-One Platform to Digitize the Entire Restaurant Supply Chain

"The restaurant industry has largely focused on front of house technology when in fact cost savings start with eliminating waste within the wholesale food supply ordering process. Restaurants across North America have come to rely on Notch to solve this problem quickly and seamlessly," said Jordan Huck, CEO, Notch.

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Delivery service Gopuff launches its own ghost kitchens

The company focused on everyday essentials will add made-to-order food to its arsenal, marking a new phase for last-mile delivery and presenting an instant competitor for restaurants.

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Starbird Flies High With Four Virtual Restaurant Concepts

Starbird has dramatically scaled up its small footprint and grown same-store sales 36 percent during the first half of 2021 as it begins to franchise the upscale fast-food brick-and-mortar brand, which also includes four successful virtual restaurant concepts under its wings.

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The new franchisors of Au Bon Pain talk about opportunities for the bakery-café concept

Ampex Brands CEO Tabbassum Mumtaz and brand president Ericka Garza see food trucks, ghost kitchens and other formats in the chain’s future.

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Is Amazon's food delivery business still half-baked?

"Amazon has been around in food delivery for one year, but we have so far not seen any impact on our market share," Zomato co-founder Gaurav Gupta said.

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Entice Office Workers Back…with Food

Can getting gourmet food from the likes of Mission Chinese Food and La Esquina be the secret to getting workers back to the office? Steven Kamali’s Kitchclub is going to find out.

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Virtual brands to outnumber physical restaurants in ‘three to five years’

Deliveroo GCC general manager Anis Harb believes it’s the future of F&B.

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Are we heading for more choice in delivery? Or less?

In this week’s numbers, I examine the trends in virtual brands from Dark Kitchens. It seems we are headed for a choice of chicken… or chicken. Is this the wave of the future?

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Serving Up Legal Insights for Los Angeles’ Food and Beverage Industry

Benjamin E. Helfman of Greenberg Glusker shares his insights and assessments regarding the current state of the industry that Angelenos most certainly couldn’t live without.

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Last-Mile Delivery and Its Impact on Urban Mixed-Use Environments

The pandemic has prompted a rethinking of our cities and how we go about our lives. What does the urban shift mean for the future of retail? More specifically, how does the on-demand economy change the retailer’s business model? And, what are the last-mile delivery challenges retailers face?

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Delivering the Multisensory Experience of Dining-Out, for Those Dining-In, During the Covid Pandemic

By analyzing a number of the high-end fine-dining home food delivery options that have been offered (in the UK and in the US) in this narrative review, we highlight a number of promising directions for those wanting to optimize the at-home multisensory dining experience, wherever in the world they might be.

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Can Your Restaurant Compete With The Rise Of Cloud Kitchens?

Prepare Your Restaurants For The Future Digital Consumer Or Perish.

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How hotel foodservice execs are managing the labor crisis

Tips from lodging experts include outsourcing, cross training and boosting retention by meeting worker lifestyle needs.

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Hoteliers sync services with changing habits of customers

Eating-out trend has drastically changed due to pandemic.

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UK: Just Eat raises takeaway service charges to as much as £1.99 leaving customers livid

The food delivery service will quadruple its service fees in some cases - mostly if you're ordering from a big name restaurant - and you'll probably still pay a delivery fee on top.

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How UAE's Kitopi is revolutionising the concept of cloud kitchens

Co-founder Saman Darkan gives insight into their journey behind Kitopi. Watch the full story here.

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After Bagging $415M, Kitopi’s Cofounder Explains Why MENA’s Cloud Kitchens Are On The Cusp Of A Major Boom

Kitopi, which stands for Kitchen Utopia, was founded in January 2018 by Mohamad Ballout, Saman Darkan, Bader Ataya, and Andy Arenas, and it has raised $504 million to date. It operates over 60 cloud kitchens across the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, and Bahrain, through partnerships with more than 200 brands in these four markets.

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Walkers Advises Kitopi on US$415 Million Series C Funding Round

Walkers acted as British Virgin Islands counsel to leading managed cloud kitchen platform Kitopi on its US$415 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, with participation from Chimera, DisruptAD, B. Riley, Dogus Group, Next Play Capital, and Nordstar.

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Launching a food business in Dubai? A cloud kitchen model may suit you best

We speak to Manhal Naser, Group CEO of AWJ Investments about the cloud kitchen business.

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India: Zomato IPO: Re-imagining the future of food

The company’s 13-year journey from idea to IPO has been marked by several misses, many wins and a ton of learning along the way.

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India: Cloud Kitchen Business Models in India

Nice overview of the leading approaches and companies in India.

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Malaysia: 4 friends with a cloud kitchen & mission to help older M’sian hawkers go digital

kEATchen was launched as a cloud kitchen to help vendors navigate the backend systems of food deliveries. This is especially so for small-time street food vendors who mostly derive their livelihood from walk-in and dine-in customers.

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Video: See Kitchen Robotics’ Beastro Ghost Kitchen Robot in Action

Kitchen Robotics is in the business of automating ghost kitchens with hardware and software tools. Beastro is its all-in-one standalone kiosk.

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