Ghost Kitchen Brands opens 1st U.S. location, in a Walmart

The Canadian company's outlet in Rochester, N.Y., offers 25 brands including Quiznos, Dickey's and Red Bull.
Photograph courtesy of Ghost Kitchen Brands

Ghost Kitchen Brands has planted its flag in the U.S.

The Canadian provider of off-premise-only kitchen spaces on Wednesday opened its first domestic location, inside a Walmart in Rochester, N.Y. Ghost Kitchens has a deal with the retail giant to open at least 30 such outlets here over the next two years.

The Rochester location features 25 brands that include restaurants like Quiznos and Saladworks along with packaged products like Red Bull and Kraft Mac & Cheese. Customers can order a combination of items for delivery or pickup while they shop, either via mobile app or on-site kiosks.

Ghost Kitchen Brands in WalmartCustomers can order from kiosks or via mobile app for pickup or delivery. / All photographs courtesy of Ghost Kitchen Brands

Ghost Kitchens operates all of its locations via licensing deals with the brands. Each kitchen staffs about two or three employees who are cross-trained on the various concepts, President Marc Choy said in an interview in April.

“We focused on brands that A, we can execute, and B, we focused on great brands that maybe don’t have the distribution that they would like right now,” Choy said.

Quiznos and Saladworks, and it sister concept, Frutta Bowls, fit that bill. Other options, like Nathan's Famous, Wow Bao and Dickey's Barbecue Pit, have also made ghost kitchens and licensing deals part of their growth strategies.

Ghost Kitchen Brands employeeGhost Kitchens employees are cross-trained on all 25 concepts at the location. 

Other brands on the Rochester roster are Cinnabon, Cheesecake Factory's bakery concept and Shaquille O'Neal's Big Chicken, which is making its East Coast debut. 

The selection also includes a handful of international concepts. Canadian chains BeaverTails and Yogen Fruz are in the mix, as is U.K.-based Costa Coffee, a Starbucks competitor owned by Coca-Cola.

Costa Coffee cup and employeesConcepts include Costa Coffee, a Starbucks competitor owned by Coca-Cola.

Ghost Kitchens hopes to eventually have 800 locations in the U.S., with Illinois, Texas, Georgia and California next in line. It is targeting nontraditional, high-traffic sites in retailers and malls, as well as stand-alone stores. In some of its Walmart locations, it is taking the place of McDonald's.

“Why use real estate to offer one brand when you can use that 3,000 square feet, put a ghost kitchen in and offer 15 different brands?” Choy said in April.

It is not the only ghost kitchen company adopting that strategy. Kitchen United recently unveiled a deal with Kroger that will bring its operation into grocery stores. And digital restaurant company C3 is pursuing locations in nontraditional settings like apartment complexes and hotels.

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