Kroger and Kitchen United have partnered to provide customers on-demand meal pickup and delivery from popular restaurants.
The Kroger Co. has partnered with ghost kitchen industry leader Kitchen United to allow customers to order freshly prepared, on-demand restaurant food for pickup while they shop for groceries or for delivery.
The new off-premise restaurant kitchen, powered by Kitchen United at participating Kroger locations, will feature up to six local, regional or national restaurant brands. When placing an order using the Kitchen United website or app, or on-site via ordering kiosks, customers can select items from each on-site restaurant to create a customized order on a single receipt. Restaurant staff will prepare the orders, and delivery service fees will be determined by third-party providers.
"Our customers' appetite for fresh, on-demand meals continues to accelerate, and we remain focused on offering new and innovative products that provide anything, anytime, anywhere," said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger's group VP of fresh merchandising "Our partnership with Kitchen United taps into restaurants' growing use of off-premise kitchen space to increase customers' access to their favorite foods."
The first kitchen center is expected to open this fall at a Ralphs store in Los Angeles, with additional locations expected later this year.
"Kitchen United recognizes the significant value of Kroger as a strategic partner. Our work together provides participating restaurants access to millions of Kroger customers and the ability to better address off-premise demand in a convenient supermarket format – a frequent destination for most consumers," said Michael Montagano, CEO of Pasadena, Calif.-based Kitchen United. "We've worked collaboratively with the Kroger team to curate a mix of popular restaurant brands, and we see a great opportunity to introduce our partnership in cities across the country."
"We are proud to have launched a number of successful ghost kitchen centers across the country, and now we are applying our experience and taking steps to expand in nontraditional ghost-kitchen formats such as retail shopping centers and food halls, like our newest kitchen center location in Chicago, alongside our efforts with Kroger," added Atul Sood, chief business officer of Kitchen United. "Our team has built a powerful tech stack and developed an infrastructure that optimizes any kitchen setting for streamlined and profitable off-premise business. Kroger is the perfect partner as we grow our reach and variety of business verticals, in addition to our well-known ghost-kitchen facility model."
This isn’t the first time Kroger has partnered with a ghost kitchen. The retailer has also worked with Indianapolis-based ClusterTruck to launch on-premise ghost kitchens. ClusterTruck's dark kitchens are powered by a proprietary software system that uses custom algorithms to optimize kitchen and delivery operations.
While ghost kitchens were on the rise before the pandemic, the trend gained momentum during the COVID-19 outbreak last year, when many restaurants were restricted to takeout or forced to close entirely. With the recent surge in Delta variant cases, these kinds of companies are poised to further accelerate growth as consumers once again limit their outings.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 11 million-plus customers daily through a digital shopping experience and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.