Walmart has recently opened its first ghost kitchen store in the United States. Customers who are looking for a quick cinnamon roll or cinnamon bun on their Saturday morning shopping trip will soon be in luck. The store is located in Rochester, New York and is operated by Canadian ghost kitchen specialist Ghost Kitchen Brands. The agreement between Walmart and Ghost Kitchen Brands will allow the latter to open up to 30 stores across the US over the next two years.
Customers will be able to order a variety of restaurant brands, including Cinnabon, for takeout and delivery. Other brands that will be featured at the Rochester branch include Shaquille O'Neal's Quiznos, Saladworks, and Big Chicken, which is making its East Coast debut. Customers can order a combination of items for delivery or pickup while shopping, either through the mobile app or through the on-site kiosks. Ghost Kitchens operates all of its locations through licensing agreements with brands. Each kitchen has about two or three employees who receive cross-training in the different concepts, according to Ghost Kitchens President Marc Choy.
The company expects to have 800 locations in the US by the end of the year and targets non-traditional, high-traffic sites in retailers and shopping malls, as well as independent stores. At some of its Walmart locations, Ghost Kitchens is replacing McDonald's. The Canadian provider of off-site kitchen space only opened its first national branch on Wednesday, inside a Walmart in Rochester, NY. Ghost Kitchens has an agreement with the retail giant to open at least 30 such outlets here in the next two years. The Rochester branch has 25 brands including restaurants such as Quiznos and Saladworks, along with packaged products such as Red Bull and Kraft Mac & Cheese. Quiznos and Saladworks, and their sister concept, Frutta Bowls, meet that requirement.
Other options, such as Nathan's Famous, Wow Bao and Dickey's Barbecue Pit, have also made ghost kitchens and licensing agreements part of their growth strategies. Ghost Kitchens employees receive cross-training on all 25 branch concepts. Other brands on Rochester's list are Cinnabon, the Cheesecake Factory bakery concept, and Shaquille O'Neal's Big Chicken, which debuts on the East Coast. The selection also includes a handful of international concepts. Canadian chains BeaverTails and Yogen Fruz are involved in the mix, as are U.
K.-based Costa Coffee, a competitor to Starbucks owned by Coca-Cola. It's not the only ghost kitchen company that adopts that strategy. Kitchen United recently introduced an agreement with Kroger that will take its operation to grocery stores. And digital restaurant company C3 is looking for locations in non-traditional environments, such as apartment complexes and hotels. Walmart has entered the frenzy of the ghost kitchen market. The company has partnered with Ghost Kitchen Brands in Canada on several ghost kitchen projects.
The first, located at the Walmart in St. Catharines has now opened and additional locations are planned in Woodstock, Toronto, Lachenaie and Saint-Constant. The retailer opened its first branch of Ghost Kitchen Brands in Rochester, New York this week starting an expansion into several states. Ghost Kitchens allows customers to use touchscreens inside Walmart to order freshly prepared meals at restaurants to deliver or pick up while they shop. The opening comes after Toronto-based Ghost Kitchens revealed in March an agreement with Walmart to launch its omni-channel food service concept at dozens of Walmart stores in Canada and the United States.
The Ghost Kitchens service allows Walmart shoppers to select food and beverages from the menus of up to 25 national and regional restaurant and CPG dining concepts and combine them in a single order. The founder of Ghost Kitchen Brands, George Kottas, has been working with Uber Eats and other delivery services for five years to develop food delivery in Canada. Walmart this week opened its first Ghost Kitchen Brands virtual “food court” store in Rochester, New York. Ghost kitchens operate with minimal person-to-person interaction, allowing restaurants to operate with two or three employees per location.
Ghost Kitchens sites also serve as delivery centers for restaurant and food service brands through third-party delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats. Ghost Kitchens operates all restaurant concepts in its locations instead of leasing space to other operators.