Walmart this week opened its first Ghost Kitchen Brands “virtual food court” location in its Rochester, N.Y., supercenter as part of a multi-state U.S. expansion.
The opening comes after Toronto-based Ghost Kitchens in March unveiled a deal with Walmart to launch its omnichannel foodservice concept in dozens of Walmart stores in Canada and the United States. Plans call for Ghost Kitchens to open sites in Walmart stores in Texas, California, Illinois and Georgia over the coming months and in 2022.
“Our business is founded on providing innovative offerings that give our customers the experience they are looking for,” Darryl Spinks, senior director of retail services at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We are excited to expand our relationship with Ghost Kitchens to continue to bring new and exciting food options to customers, all while providing the convenience our customers need.”
The Ghost Kitchens service enables Walmart shoppers to select food and beverages from the menus of up to 25 national and regional restaurant and CPG food concepts and combine them into a single order. Customers place their orders via touchscreen kiosks and then receive a receipt via text, followed by another text when their order is ready, allowing them to shop while their order is prepared.
Menus also can be downloaded onto mobile devices via QR codes located alongside the kiosks. The Ghost Kitchens sites also serve as delivery hubs for the restaurant and foodservice brands via third-party delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Brands available at the Rochester Walmart Supercenter include Amaya Indian, BeaverTails, Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken, Cinnabon, Costa Coffee, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Fries of the World, Frutta Bowls, Funnel Cake, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Lola’s Latin Food, Monster Cupcakes, Nathan’s Famous, Pepe’s Perogies, Quiznos, Red Bull, Saladworks, SLUSH PUPPiE, TAZO Bubble Tea, The Cheesecake Factory Bakery, Wings of New York, Wow Bao and Yogen Früz.
The Ghost Kitchens operate with minimal person-to-person interaction, enabling the restaurants to operate with two or three employees per location. Each kitchen also offers slimmed-down menus from the restaurant concepts for more efficient operations.
Ghost Kitchens operates all of the restaurant concepts in its locations, instead of leasing space to other operators. The company holds licensing or distribution agreements with each of its foodservice partners and uses the same ingredients, training, marketing and operational support as the brands’ brick-and-mortar locations.
Marc Choy, president of Ghost Kitchens, previously reported plans for six Walmart installations in New York and more than 30 under construction, with as many as 50 locations rolling out in Canada and the U.S. Walmart Canada’s first Ghost Kitchen outlet opened in its St. Catharines, Ontario, store earlier this year, and additional sites are slated for Walmart stores in Woodstock and Toronto, Ontario, and in Lachenaie and Saint-Constant, Quebec.
“We are thrilled for this next chapter of our growth story in the U.S. as we continue innovating with seamless integrations of new and improved restaurant concepts,” said George Kottas, founder and CEO, Ghost Kitchens. “We are proud to work with Walmart to create best-in-class, technology-driven customer experiences and make top-tier products more accessible across both Canadian and U.S. markets.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mark Hamstra contributed to this story.