Coronavirus

Ghost Kitchens Take Over Shuttered US Eateries

takeout food

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the restaurant business, other companies are coming up with plans to breathe new life into unused kitchens.

SBE Entertainment Group is serving up “ghost kitchens” — restaurants that only deal with delivery orders. Its C3 subsidiary reportedly plans to hire 1,000 employees as it takes over shuttered restaurants, which it then uses to cook up delivery-only meals.

As reported, the fallout from the worldwide coronavirus crisis may haunt the restaurant business for some time — and deliver major changes. In the short run, takeout is the only game in town.

“For some places, where takeout and delivery a year ago might’ve been 13 percent of their orders, it has today become 100 percent,” said Paytronix CEO Andrew Robbins.

He said many restaurants will move to a hybrid model. For example, Buca Di Beppo is another company that runs so-called ghost kitchens. Customers may order meals from a name-brand restaurant — but Buca Di Beppo is actually cooking the food.

For its part, C3, or Creating Culinary Communities, is looking to cash in on the current crisis. It’s also eyeing future opportunities, given that many restaurants may not be able to reopen even when social distancing lockdowns have been relaxed.

“We definitely have seen a fundamental shift in consumer behavior, and we’ve accelerated not just our locations, but a completely different business line, which is leasing restaurants that are dark in communities that need restaurants and food,” SBE Entertainment CEO Sam Nazarian said in a CNBC report.

In fact, some restaurant brands can only be found on meal-delivery apps.

C3 was started last year by mega-mall owner Simon Property and hotel company Accor, in addition to SBE Entertainment. Its business model is a sign of the times — interest in food delivery was on the rise.

From a business standpoint, ghost kitchens can offer cheaper rental rates, since they do not have to be located in a trendy area where consumers want to dine out.

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