Circle K Invests in Ghost Kitchen Upstart

The convenience retailer sees “many commercial opportunities” with Kitchen United, which has raised $100 million in Series C funding.

July 27, 2022

Kitchen United Interior

PASADENA, Calif.—Kitchen United, a ghost kitchen and restaurant hub technology company, raised $100 million in its Series C funding round. New investors included Alimentation Couche-Tard/Circle K, The Kroger Co. and Restaurant Brands International, among others. After this round of investments, Kitchen United has raised $175 million to date.

"We see many commercial opportunities in partnering with Kitchen United as it prepares for considerable scale. We believe this business stands apart from other industry players with its centralized locations, multi-format offerings, experienced management team and mature technology stack—all of which align with Circle K's mission to make our customers' lives a little easier every day as we work together to shape the future of convenience," said Kevin Lewis, chief marketing officer, Alimentation Couche-Tard.

According to Michael Montagano, Kitchen United's CEO and board member, the company “uniquely sits at the intersection of technology, food and real estate. Our solution serves as the technological and physical infrastructure revolutionizing centrally located distribution hubs through streamlining off-premises ordering and consumption.”

Across 20 regions, Kitchen United has about 200 operational kitchens, which use proprietary technology allowing customers to order from multiple prepared food and consumer goods brands on the same ticket and with the same delivery driver.

The company plans to increase its technological and physical footprint in the near term. Kitchen United will continue its focus on Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Texas as key markets with continued expansion throughout other U.S. trade areas.

Kitchen United plans to further evolve its multiconcept ordering technology platform Kitchen United OS, used by customers like Burger King, Popeyes, Chick-fil-A, Portillo's, Panera Bread, Dog Haus, Wingstop and Brinker International.

Ghost kitchens can help broaden the reach of foodservice for retailers. In June, the Dallas Morning News reported that a Plano, Texas, Walmart is getting a commercial ghost kitchen inside the store and will sell food from nationally known restaurants via delivery and to-go. The owners of the restaurant, Canadian company Ghost Kitchen Brands, opened their first location inside a Walmart store in St. Catherine’s, Ontario.

Other companies have also formed partnerships around ghost kitchens, including Kroger and ClusterTruck, which joined forces in 2020 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, too.

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is turning a former restaurant space into a ghost kitchen that will serve meals from several local and national brand-name eateries.

Retailers thinking about establishing ghost kitchens and a reliable delivery platform can read the NACS Magazine article “Ghost Kitchens” to learn how they are a viable solution to broaden the reach of foodservice.