US Foods launches ghost kitchen help for operators

The food distributor’s new program will help restaurants identify successful virtual concepts and craft profitable menus.
US Foods Ghost Kitchen
Photograph: Shutterstock

The latest entrant into the ghost kitchen boom? Distributor US Foods, which announced Wednesday that it is getting in on the action to help its restaurant clients generate more off-premise business.

US Foods Ghost Kitchens aren’t physical spaces; rather they’re a playbook to guide operators through the process of starting their own virtual operations.

The new program includes “proprietary technology” to identify the most successful ghost concepts based on local market conditions; digital marketing support; menu creation and optimization help, as well as recipes designed by US Foods chefs that focus on profitability and trends; and quick start-up guidance so operators can be running in “a matter of weeks,” the company said in a news release.

“The Ghost Kitchens program was developed in response to growing interest among our customers, but we’ve also been tracking the trend, and ghost kitchens are projected to reach a $1 trillion global market by 2030, making them an attractive concept for operators even after dine-in restrictions are lifted,” Jim Osborne, US Foods’ senior vice president of customer strategy and innovation, said.

Few trends have been as prominent during the pandemic as ghost kitchens, as operators seek to seize on the increased demand for food delivery. Brands ranging from Fazoli’s to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit to Chili’s parent Brinker International have all recently announced virtual kitchen initiatives.

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