Walmart is expanding its relationship with a Canadian ghost kitchen operator to the United States.
The discount giant will open its first ghost kitchen operated by platform Ghost Kitchens Brands at its store in Rochester, New York. The location builds upon an existing collaboration between Walmart Canada and the scalable “ghost kitchen.” The Rochester Walmart location will offer meal pickup or delivery available from up to 25 brands.
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 of prepared meals to consume at home.
[Read more: Retailers extend their presence with ghost kitchens]
This expanded partnership will see Ghost Kitchens Brands open ghost kitchens in additional locations in U.S. Walmart stores over the coming months and into 2022. Expansion is planned to include stores in Texas, California, Illinois, and Georgia, among other states. Walmart Canada and Ghost Kitchens Brands also currently offer one-stop meal pickup and delivery at a store in St. Catharines, Ontario. The retailer plans to open more Canadian ghost kitchens at two Ontario stores and two Quebec stores in the coming months.
Walmart’s rollout of ghost kitchens in U.S. stores also dovetails with a plan by Nathan’s Famous to grow its brand via ghost kitchens. Nathan’s Famous, best-known for its signature hot dogs and crinkle-cut fries, has partnered with Ghost Kitchens Brands to open 100 non-traditional locations by the end of 2021. Sixty of the locations will be in the U.S., with the majority live inside Walmart stores; 40 will be in Canada.
Brands available in Walmart’s Rochester store ghost kitchen include, but are not limited to Amaya Indian, Beaver Tails, 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, Quzinos, Red Bull, Saladworks, Slush Puppie, Tazo Bubble Tea, The Cheesecake Factory Bakery, Wings of New York, Wow Bao, and Yogen Früz.
“We pride ourselves on having the highest standards for our services. Our business is founded on providing innovative offerings that give our customers the experience they are looking for,” said Darryl Spinks, senior director, retail services, Walmart U.S. “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.”
“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.”
Ghost Kitchen Brands has locations across Canada and the U.S. that focus on third-party delivery, as well as stand-alone, interior mall and big-box locations.