Kroger opened the first Ghost Kitchen in Dallas, a concept that serves a selection from the mall’s food court but operates behind a single counter and also serves.
Kroger has partnered with Kitchen United Mix in Pasadena, California to open its first local ghost kitchen Thursday at its store on Mockingbird Lane and Greenville Avenue.
Kitchen United is located directly inside the main entrance to the store. It’s hard to miss the colorful signage, large countertops, and windows in two small kitchens. Customers only interact with Kitchen United employees.
The Ghost Kitchen opened with menus from six restaurants: Dog Haus hotdogs, Capriotti sandwiches, Indian street food Curry UPnow, and Carl’s Jr. , Fuku Fried Chicken and Monkey King Noodles. There is a possibility to add more.
“It’s too early to tell,” said Kroger Vice President of Marketing Frank Romero, but the prospects for expanding the partnership are good.
Michael Montagano, CEO of Romero and Kitchen United, stated that the concept would target the return of students to the nearby Southern Methodist University campus.
Kitchen United presents itself as a solution for roommates and families who have different food tastes but would like to eat together. “Our secret sauce is to place one order. It’s one transaction and one delivery fee,” Montagano said.
To date, the company has 14 freestanding ghost kitchens, including one in Frisco, and another in Plano’s own business. The Dallas location is the third inside the Kroger Store. The other two opened early this year in Los Angeles and Houston.
Montagano said the store inside the Kroger Ralphs supermarket in Los Angeles is located near the University of California campus where students discovered it and used it.
Joy Lai, chief operating officer of Kitchen United, said the company plans to open more locations in various locations. There is one at Hulu’s headquarters in Santa Monica.
Lai describes the concept as a virtual food court due to the technology behind it, such as an app and an in-store digital board that shows shoppers when their takeout will be ready.
Montanago said the idea is easy to sell to restaurants, “because there’s no capital investment to spend at least $1 million and six months or more to open their own store.”
He said Kroger’s busy stores are also a good place to find new customers. Romero said Krueger loves the concept because it’s another reason people come to the store.
Kitchen United was founded in 2017, and its largest shareholder is Google Ventures, the venture capital arm of Alphabet Inc. Parent of Google, the company has raised $50 million so far.
Ghost kitchens have been around for a while, and there are several operators in Dallas.
Walmart recently said it will partner with two North Texas taco store owners to open a ghost kitchen later this summer at a Plano store.
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