Simon launches ghost kitchen offering

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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del amo
Simon properties including Del Amo Fashion Center are offering ghost kitchen services.

The nation’s largest owner of shopping malls is the latest retail entity to enter the ghost kitchen space.

Simon is introducing “Grab, Go, Eat,” a new collaboration with ghost kitchen startup Kitchen United. Through the Grab Go Eat platform, customers at select centers operated by Simon can order from multiple restaurants in a single transaction for in-mall pickup or home delivery.

As a result, Simon customers can choose whether food is delivered to their table or any store within the shopping center, as well as pick up food directly from the restaurant or on-premises food lockers. Customers will be able to order meals from Kitchen United's kiosks, website or app, and the Grab Go Eat service will take care of the rest.

A ghost kitchen is the foodservice equivalent of a dark store – a location that prepares food for delivery, without providing dine-in service. Although the concept has been around for several years, ghost kitchens are gaining momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more consumers are turning to online delivery or pickup of prepared meals.

[Read more: Retailers extend their presence with ghost kitchens]

"The Grab Go Eat platform with Simon brings a new and cutting-edge dining experience to both consumers, employees and retailers at Simon's Del Amo Fashion Center and Roosevelt Field," said Eric Sadi, co-president, mall platform, Simon. "Giving consumers the flexibility to dine when and where they want, as well as order from multiple restaurants all under one ticket is something that will completely enhance the customer experience at these locations and set the precedent this year."

"Our partnership with Simon signifies that demand for off-premise is continuing to accelerate, and we are eager to introduce our Grab Go Eat platform, which will provide both customers and mall staff with the opportunity to conveniently order from a variety of dining options," said Michael Montagano, CEO of Kitchen United. "At the same time, restaurants operating at each mall will be able to seamlessly expand their reach and customer base and streamline takeout and delivery operations through our unique model."

Expanding omnichannel services
Simon’s commencement of ghost kitchen operations is the company’s latest effort to provide more omnichannel conveniences that will draw shoppers. The mall operator also partners with two different platforms for in-store returns of online purchases.

Simon is collaborating with Narvar, a carrier-agnostic service that enables consumers to drop off returns from about two dozen participating brands at participating Simon locations. In January 2020, Simon expanded a similar partnership with the Happy Returns service, which enables shoppers to return online purchases at guest services counters for immediate refunds, at 52 malls across the country. Shoppers can return or exchange items from select online retailers at Simon Guest Services at participating centers, for an immediate credit. 

“Our properties continue to be a town square destination for the communities they serve. Offering a variety of services at our properties helps consumers consolidate errands and save time, driving incremental visitation to our properties,” Andy Hutcherson, senior VP of innovation and customer experience, Simon, said when the company announced its Narvar collaboration.