Foodservice distributor US Foods Holding Corp. said Wednesday that it has launched a “ghost kitchen” program, tapping into a trend on the rise before the pandemic, and which has gained fresh energy during the outbreak.
Ghost kitchens, of course, are places where meals are prepared for delivery, and they represent a source of revenue — or even, perhaps, a pandemic lifeline — for restaurant operators. Currently, with dine-in restrictions due to Covid-19, most restaurants are experiencing challenges managing through the minimum dining room capacity operators say is needed to make reopening work financially. As a result, 75% of restaurant operators now consider off-premise dining to be their best growth opportunity, according to the National Restaurant Association.
The new US Foods Ghost Kitchens is designed to guide restaurant operators every step of the way when opening their own operation, helping them gain new sales. According to US Foods, ghost kitchens can cost $5,000 or less to set up.
With the addition of this program, US Foods customers now have access to exclusive resources developed to streamline the process of starting a ghost kitchen, including proprietary technology to help identify menu opportunities, a detailed playbook to guide decision making, dedicated marketing support, webinars and one-on-one consultations with US Foods specialists.
The US Foods Ghost Kitchens program will help restaurant operators drive profits by:
- Accessing US Foods’ proprietary technology to identify the right concept based on their unique, local market conditions
- Leveraging US Foods’ knowledge and support in building and creating strong brands and digital marketing
- Creating and optimizing the menu based on US Foods’ exclusive food-costing tools, industry analysis and recipes designed by in-house chefs that focus on both profitability and diner trends
- Providing guidance on how to quickly get started so that operators are up and running in a matter of weeks
“The Ghost Kitchens program was developed in response to growing interest among our customers, but we’ve also been tracking the trend, and ghost kitchens are projected to reach a $1 trillion global market by 2030, making them an attractive concept for operators even after dine-in restrictions are lifted,” said Jim Osborne, senior vice president of customer strategy and innovation at US Foods. “We also know ghost kitchens are a departure from the traditional brick and mortar format, so some independent operators need help to jumpstart a new venture, which is why our program takes out all the guesswork. We help the operator through every major decision. And since operators using the program often set up within their existing facilities, we’re able to help them open a ghost kitchen with minimal start-up costs in a matter of weeks, with the goal of higher profit margins and expanded customer reach.”