Walmart embraces virtual kitchens

Walmart Canada is expanding into the restaurant industry - the virtual kind, at least. On Monday, the company became the latest to embrace the "virtual kitchen" trend, partnering with Ghost Kitchen Brands to offer food delivery to customers at its location in St. Catharines, Ont., the first of many to come.

Ghost Kitchen Brands, a virtual restaurant concept founded by George Kottas, is at the forefront of a new trend in food service that's grown in popularity in recent years. Out of a single kitchen, customers can order from menus of over 20 food companies, prepared by just two to four employees. The kitchens, which rarely have seating areas or storefronts, rely almost exclusively on delivery apps to bring customers their meals.

The partnership is a first for Ghost Kitchen Brands, which has opened 25 locations across the country over the past two years. "We've been looking for partners who can offer us high visibility and a high amount of foot traffic," said company president Marc Choy.

The alliance represents the merging of two one-stop-shop concepts. Walmart is increasingly a catch-all for customer needs offering everything from clothing to groceries, while Ghost Kitchen Brands lets customers order from a wide range of popular fast-food companies - Quiznos, the Cheesecake Factory, Taco del Mar and more.

The new concept will let customers order freshly prepared meals, which they can either pick up in person or order for delivery, while shopping in-store.

Ghost Kitchens is one of many companies that have bundled together established brands and offered delivery through apps like Uber Eats or SkipThe-Dishes.

Recipe Unlimited, a restaurant company owning more than a dozen of Canada's biggest chains, launched a virtual restaurant concept called Ultimate Kitchens in March. Its chair, Paul Rivett, is also chair of Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star.

The Etobicoke-based Kitchen Hub, launched in January 2020, calls itself a "virtual food hall" that pulls together menus from Toronto restaurants like Fresh, the Carbon Bar and Pai Northern Thai Kitchen.

As the trend grows, Ghost Kitchen Brands has made no secret of its ambitions.

"Our goal is to open a Ghost Kitchen every 12 kms across Canada," Choy said. "We want to be able to reach every Canadian, in every urban market within 30 minutes, 24/7."

Par Jacob Lorinc (02/03/2021)

Source : Toronto Star

Photo : Fabio Bracht (Unsplash)