Ghost kitchens are going to college.
Foodservice management company Chartwells Higher Ed is expanding its test of the delivery- or pickup-only kitchens to campuses nationwide following pilots at schools including Seattle University, SUNY Buffalo and San Jose State University.
Chartwells, which manages operations for more than 300 college dining programs, works with schools to develop new concepts based on student preferences with the goal of offering more variety and convenience. Schools are not replacing existing dining concepts, but rather using existing kitchen space to produce the new brands. Students can order for delivery or pickup using Chartwells’ mobile ordering platform.
“We decided to open our ghost kitchen in response to students and parents looking for increased meal variety and a safe alternative to on-campus dining, particularly on the weekends and for plant-based options,” Terry Conaty, resident district manager at Seattle University, said in a statement. “The feedback so far has been phenomenal. Our team was able to get the program up and running quickly, and our costs were minimal as we simply repurposed existing kitchen space.”
Seattle University’s ghost kitchen debuted in September with rotating offerings of 12 main dishes and 12 desserts and received over 24,000 orders in its first month of operation.
Some restaurant brands are also finding colleges, full of tech-savvy young customers who prize convenience, to be a solid proving ground for these sorts of virtual concepts. The sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s recently opened its first ghost kitchen at Rider University in New Jersey.
Outside of higher ed, ghost kitchens have been finding their way into hotels, shopping malls and elsewhere.
Joe Guszkowski contributed to this story.