Big Box Stores Embrace Ghost Kitchens

Walmart is the latest retailer to install ghost kitchens inside a retail location.

March 10, 2021

Exterior of Walmart

ST. CATHERINE’S, Ontario—Ghost Kitchens, a Canadian company, opened its first location inside a Walmart store in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, The Spoon reports. While restaurant chains and smaller retailers have started adding ghost kitchens to their premises, now big-box retailers like Walmart are riding the trend.

The addition of the concept of ghost kitchens, restaurants built specifically for the takeout model with no dine-in space, within retailers like Walmart further smears the lines separating grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants. The company Ghost Kitchens carries both CPG products, such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and QSR meals from places like Salad Works and Cinnabon. With this new location, customers can order for home delivery via third-party delivery platforms or pickup at Walmart.

The ghost kitchen trend is one that continues to spark interest as consumer desire for one-stop shopping accelerates. The ability to purchase a burrito or fresh kale in a single place has spurred partnerships like Ghost Kitchens and Walmart.

Other companies have also formed partnerships around ghost kitchens, including Kroger and ClusterTruck, which joined forces in October to open two ghost kitchens at Kroger stores in Columbus and Indianapolis. Restaurants have teamed up with DoorDash and other delivery services to deliver meals from ghost kitchens.

Last month, an article in CBNC questioned the long-term viability of restaurant ghost kitchens. “You can’t keep just throwing up virtual brands—at some point, there’s saturation,” said Dan Fleischmann, vice president of Kitchen Fund, in the article.

For more on this trend, read “Ghost Kitchens” in the September 2020 issue of NACS Magazine.