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Inside Kroger and Kitchen United’s Unique Take on Ghost Kitchens

Kroger and ghost kitchen start-up Kitchen United have teamed to provide shoppers with on-demand takeout and delivery food. Through the partnership, Kitchen United will feature up to six restaurant brands inside select Kroger locations.

The move follows Kitchen United’s successful retail ghost kitchen model testing at Westfield Valley Fair in California, Atul Sood, Chief Business Officer at Kitchen United, told The Food Institute.

“We have long admired Kroger’s innovation and ability to meet consumer demand,” Sood said. “We thought a collaboration such as this would be advantageous for both parties, restaurant operators and consumers.”

In-Store Layout

The first kitchen center under the Kroger partnership is slated to open in a Los Angeles location of Ralphs this fall, with more sites planned for the rest of the year.

Kitchen United’s restaurant within each Kroger will feature four-wall segmentation along with space for cooking and a make line. Customers can order at kiosks, which will be located throughout the store, or through the Kitchen United’s website, app or a third-party delivery service.

“At the restaurants, consumers will be able to peer behind clear glass to see what is being made,” said Sood. “The openness and accessibility really combats the idea of a ‘dark kitchen’.”

Potential Brands/Concepts

While yet to be announced, Kitchen United and Kroger will collaborate and identify prime candidates to offer in-demand cuisine for each region. Prior to opening any location, Kitchen United researches local consumer demographics, existing culinary options, and opportunities to fill a particular cuisine void.

“If the local market is already saturated with pizza or Asian fusion concepts, it’s unlikely there will be consumer demand for a new similar concept,” Sood noted.

Interaction with Traditional Grab & Go

The ghost kitchen partnership aims to expand upon consumers’ demand for convenient meal solutions for every daypart by connecting grocery stores with established brands. For instance, at the end of the day, having a ghost kitchen in-store would make it much easier for a customer to pick up dinner from their favorite restaurants after they’ve done their grocery shopping.

“Convenience reigns supreme and busy consumers want choices in fresh, prepared meal solutions,” Sood said. “This provides the ultimate convenience of choice for shoppers – they can get their go-to, ready-to-eat sushi at that specific counter of the store, and they can get a burger they have been craving from their favorite big brand burger joint.”