In brief: Wendy’s is planning to open 700 “ghost kitchens” by 2025 in order to meet the growing demand of customers that want their orders brought to them. A ghost kitchen, for those unfamiliar, is just another name for a professional food prep kitchen or cooking facility that exclusively handles delivery orders. Think of it as a fast food spot, but without an order counter, drive-thru or space to dine in.
I’ve written time and again about how the pandemic has reshaped our daily lives, and how many of those changes are likely to become permanent. One area that’s been impacted especially hard is the food services industry, where robots are finding a home alongside human workers.
But that’s not the only major change taking place. Some restaurants and fast food chains have seen a massive increase in delivery orders – so much so that they’re changing how they operate to accommodate.
Wendy’s aims to open its new ghost kitchens across the US, Canada and in the UK, primarily in large cities, with the goal of getting at least 50 sites up and running by the end of 2021. They’ll be working with Reef Technology Inc., a Miami-based company, on the project, after conducting a successful test run in Canada last year involving eight such kitchens.
The fast food chain said it expects sales of $500,000 to $1 million annually per location. Wendy’s will take a six percent cut of the sales, and will utilize existing third-party services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub to handle deliveries.
The Associated Press noted that deliveries from restaurants and fast food establishments were already on the rise before the pandemic sent them into overdrive. In the year that ended in June 2019, deliveries accounted for 3.3 percent of US restaurant traffic according to data from NPD Group. For the year that ended June 2021, deliveries represented 8.4 percent of total restaurant traffic.
Wendy’s specifically said its digital sales, which include mobile orders for pickup and deliveries, made up 7.5 percent of total sales in the second quarter of 2021. That’s up from just 2.5 percent during the same quarter in 2019.