The nation's largest supermarket chain is opening 'dark' kitchens inside some of its stores to meet surging demand for food delivery

An employee prepares a meal in one of Kroger's GhostTruck ghost kitchens. The Kroger Co.
Kroger is placing "ghost kitchens" in two of its grocery stores to expand the delivery of meals.
The kitchens will serve over 80 dishes and meals will be delivered within 7 minutes of preparation and an average of 30 minutes of ordering.
Many retailers see "ghost kitchens," "dark shops," and "virtual shops" as an opportunity at a time when Americans choose delivery options rather than going to a brick and mortar location.
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The food giant Kroger is converting 1,200 square meters into "ghost kitchens" in two of its stores, the company announced on Thursday. "Ghost kitchens", also known as "dark kitchens", are used to fulfill online delivery orders and do not offer a traditional dine-in option.
Kroger and ClusterTruck, a meal delivery startup working on the initiative, announced that their ghost kitchens have a menu of more than 80 meals and a seven-minute lead time for prep to delivery and a 30-minute lead time are minutes on average.
The grocery store announced that it has rolled out the concept at its Fishers, Indiana location and will roll out a second at its Dublin, Ohio store later this year.
The new kitchens are the latest move by retailers looking to reach customers on lockdown and expand their offerings to meet changing ordering habits. "Ghost kitchens" and "dark shops" have caught the imagination of businesses from Wendy's to Sweetgreen to Chik-fil-A. Before the pandemic, the option prevailed among providers who wanted to increase their delivery revenues and throw the customer-oriented infrastructure overboard. In the middle of the pandemic, the business model has become even more attractive.
Last month, Burger King released a redesign of its restaurant that will reduce the size of the dining room instead of take-out cubbies and provide more space for drive-through and roadside pick-up options.
In August, the delivery app DoorDash created a "virtual convenience store" called DashMart. At DashMart, customers can't rummage through the aisles with basket in hand looking for the right shampoo. However, you can choose one in an app and have it delivered to your doorstep. Similarly, Whole Foods has decided to close at least six locations to customers in favor of a "dark store" model that prohibits customers and lets staff shop for pickup or delivery to minimize virus exposure, the previous business said Insider reporting.
"The new on-premise kitchen in partnership with ClusterTruck is an innovation that streamlines ordering, preparation and delivery ... while we face an unprecedented health crisis that has affected every aspect of our lives, including meal times," said Dan De La Rosa of Kroger Group Vice President for Fresh Merchandising said in a statement.
The Kroger Co.
ClusterTruck, the startup that worked with Kroger to develop this new dining option, specializes in making software platforms for delivery-only kitchens. The startup launched its first kitchen in 2016. To date, the startup has raised $ 28 million in funding, according to the pitchbook. In its final round of donations in July, the company received $ 2 million, according to the Pitchbook.
Typically "ghost kitchens" are run as a clean break from customer-facing services with no take-out or dine-in options, but Kroger's locations allow take-out orders. The company piloted a version of the ghost kitchens that were separate from its grocery stores in 2019, but has since opted for an in-store concept.
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