US Foods offers a playbook for “ghost cooking” startups

US Food Holding Corp., a leader food service distributor, is launching a program designed to help restaurants operate “ghost kitchens” as a way to increase their income amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.

American Foods’ Ghost kitchen The project aims to educate restaurateurs on emerging options such as virtual kitchens, where traditional brick and mortar is replaced by a professional kitchen with only take-out or delivery options.

With COVID-19[female[feminine greatly reducing restaurant meals, many independent restaurants and chains are testing ghost restaurant concepts as a creative solution, especially as take-out / delivery becomes a primary source of income.

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With colder weather on the horizon, cutting back on al fresco dining, many restaurants will be looking for alternatives to help them stay afloat.

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USFD US FOODS HOLDING CORP. 36.47 -0.14 -0.38%

“In many parts of the country, over the next few weeks and possibly months, alfresco dining will decline,” Jim Osborne, senior vice president of customer strategy and innovation, told FOX Business. US Foods. “We make sure restaurants are ready when that happens to continue to offer take-out, deliveries, meal kits, family meals, merchandise – and anything else that can help them get creative. to keep their income at a high level. “

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According to Osborne, the program emerged in response to growing customer interest, and the pandemic has accelerated that interest.

According to the National Restaurant Association, about 75% of restaurant owners now see off-premises dining as their best growth opportunity.

The idea also came to fruition following data revealing future profitability, which is expected to transcend the pandemic when restoration restrictions are lifted. EuroMonitor estimates that ghost kitchens and off-premises meals are expected to grow into a $ 1 trillion global market by 2030.

“Six months ago a lot of people were saying this was just a trend,” Osborne said. “Now we are seeing these trends come true. Now, we have something that we can do for our clients that allows them to capitalize on these revenue streams in a pretty simplistic way for their business.

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The US Foods Ghost Kitchen playbook draws on the industry expertise of Restaurant Operations Consultant (ROC) and Food Fantastic chefs to consult with customers on basic operating strategies, like how to pivot. the menu, understanding profit and loss, boosting digital presence and social media, and more.

A variety of tools also help restaurateurs understand and establish their brand, including a shelf report that dissects the competitive landscape as well as a cross-use resource that filters out what products and ingredients are needed for their cuisine.

The advice expands to help restaurants target what works and what doesn’t to strike a balance between bringing a brand to life and driving traffic while ensuring a profitable business.

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“If you try to open a taco concept ghost kitchen and in front of you is an amazing taco restaurant, you probably won’t be as successful as if you found a niche in your market in terms of what is available and what is offered, ”said Osborne.

“There is a lot of fatigue at dinner over there where you have been going to the same restaurant for 6 months. If you are able to find something that is new to this market that is conducive to offsite or that travels well, it can be great. to success.”

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