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Even more chains jump on the ghost kitchen bandwagon

Fazoli’s, Dickey’s and more are launching delivery-only concepts to reach consumers looking for off-premise options amid the pandemic.
Photo courtesy of Fazoli's

Given the recent explosion in virtual restaurant brands, it’s almost worth asking: Which restaurant chains aren’t currently cooking up virtual concepts or ghost kitchen operations?

Just this week, Sterling Douglass, CEO of POS integration company Chowly, estimated there are nearly 100,000 virtual restaurant concepts on third-party delivery services.

With new chains launching their entries into the delivery-only space seemingly every day, here are the latest players in this fast-growing off-premise trend:

  • Fazoli’s on Thursday announced its first ghost kitchen operation. The 220-unit, fast-casual Italian brand is operating a delivery-only unit out of the virtual kitchen facility at PREP Atlanta. Delivery is available through the chain’s website as well as via 11 third-party delivery providers.
  • Barbecue brand Smokey Bones has added two virtual concepts to all of its 61 restaurants: The Wing Experience and The Burger Experience. The delivery-only concepts feature Smokey Bones’ top-selling burgers and wings, as well as menu items created for each brand. The company has “more virtual restaurant brands and ideas in our pipeline,” CEO James O’Reilly said.
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Is adding virtual kitchens to its lineup of franchising options, the chain announced Thursday. As a bonus to potential franchisees, the chain is citing the all-inclusive aspect of virtual kitchens, as well as limited labor coasts and “fast-track to opening,” according to a press release. “Virtual kitchens are a unique franchising opportunity that gives us new and innovative ways to capitalize on consumer trends at a low cost,” CEO Laura Rea Dickey said.
  • Muscle Maker Inc., parent company of Muscle Maker Grill and Healthy Joe’s, opened its first delivery-only kitchen late last month. The company also runs a health-focused meal plan concept called Meal Plan AF. The Chicago ghost kitchen is part of a 10-unit agreement signed by the brand earlier this year, according to the company. Muscle Maker intends to operate three concepts out of one ghost kitchen.



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