The parent of Saladworks is doubling down on its nontraditional growth strategy.
After unveiling a plan to add 90 locations with Ghost Kitchen Brands in late March, Woworks announced this week an agreement with ghost kitchen franchise Combo Kitchen to bring its Saladworks and Frutta Bowls concepts into the kitchens of existing restaurants.
The partnership began in October, and Saladworks debuted in a Combo Kitchen franchisee restaurant in Miami on April 10. Combo Kitchen said it has 14 agreements signed for the Woworks concepts and expects them to grow at a rate of five to seven new locations a month this year.
Founded in 2020 by entrepreneur Hossein Kasmai, Miami-based Combo Kitchen invites brick-and-mortar restaurants to become franchisees and operate one or more of its concepts out of their kitchens for to-go only. The idea is to provide an additional revenue source. Its website lists about two-dozen concepts to choose from, including Dickey's Barbecue Pit as well as small local brands such as Baya Bar and Bailey Seafood.
The company said it looks for established brands to add to its roster rather than virtual brands, and gives them the opportunity to grow quickly.
"Saladworks and Frutta Bowls can experience exponential growth while Combo Kitchen handles all franchise sales, royalty collections and other operational responsibilities," Kasmai said in a statement.
Woworks was formed last year as an umbrella company for fast-casual Saladworks and the recently acquired Frutta Bowls and Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh concepts. It has since added the Simple Greek to the fold.
After dealing with sales and unit count declines in 2019, Saladworks is firmly in growth mode, having added 40 locations in the past year. About 80% of those are in ghost kitchens, food trucks or nontraditional locations like hospitals, Woworks said.
The company is among a few that are using ghost kitchens to grow quickly. Just yesterday, Nathan's Famous announced it would be opening 100 new locations with Ghost Kitchen Brands, many of them in Walmarts.