After years of proliferation, with new entrants to the space continually emerging to challenge the grip that was beginning to gain traction, the Ghost Kitchen space may consolidate. On Monday, October 4, ghost cooking company Kitchen United announced the acquisition of Zuul, a food delivery and virtual kitchen solution.
Kitchen United is partnering with many big restaurant brands, including White Castle, Wendy’s and Panera Bread, to create delivery-only locations, and in August the company announced a partnership with Kroger, the world’s largest pure-play grocer. of the United States, to allow consumers to order restaurant food for pickup or delivery to grocery stores.
For its part, Zuul made headlines throughout 2020, first for the acquisition of the digital ordering platform Ontray Technology in January, and then, after the start of the pandemic and the increase in delivery orders. , for its $ 9 million fundraiser and for its virtual food launch. room in New York. Earlier this year, the company announced that it was launching its virtual dining room software as a standalone product for restaurateurs.
Read more: Kroger Brings Ghost Kitchens to Stores with Kitchen United Partnership
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While ghost kitchens first appeared in 2015, the space has grown significantly since March 2020, with consumers avoiding physical restaurants, making it easier for non-presence locations to be successful in the face of consumers. A host of ghost kitchen vendors, including not only Kitchen United and Zuul, but also Ghost Kitchen Brands, Franklin Junction, Reef Technology, CloudKitchens, Kitopi, and All Day Kitchens, among others, have been competing to gain a share of the new interest from consumers. restaurants for the space, now that the volume of digital orders is skyrocketing.
“Bigger and more efficient chains want to relieve themselves of this pressure [from] their dining rooms in optimized operations to cope with things like peak order flow, ”Karen Webster, then Kitchen United CEO Jim Collins, told Karen Webster in an interview in 2018.
See also: Restaurant Rethinks: Industry leaders on the post-pandemic future of Ghost Kitchens
Read more: Kitchen United CEO on the future of online restaurant selling
What the experts say
“We knew the direction the restaurant industry was taking was about accessibility,” said James Walker, senior vice president of restaurants at Nathan’s Famous, in an interview with PYMNTS, discussing the brand’s shift to ghost kitchens. “Drive-thru, delivery and offsite – you could just see the numbers go up. And we said, we don’t want to jump on this train. We want to get there before the train.
“The dynamic of the 1950s where someone cooked six square meals a week and went out maybe once a week is going to be totally the opposite,” Marc Choy, president of Ghost Kitchen Brands, told Webster at a conversation last month. “This is how people will know how to get their food – by ordering.”
Results from the PYMNTS Restaurant Readiness Index, created in partnership with Paytronix, indicate that restaurant aggregator orders and restaurant site delivery orders cumulatively represent more than a quarter of total restaurant sales. Additionally, research from our report, The Bring-It-To-Me Economy, created in collaboration with Fiserv’s Carat, finds that consumers are now 31% more likely to eat their orders at restaurants at home than to dine at. restaurant. Numerical control has become the norm.
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