KANSAS CITY — The food delivery service DoorDash made a splash in late 2019 with the introduction of its first ghost kitchen in Redwood City, Calif. Nearly two years and one pandemic later, restaurant industry investment in off-premises concepts is accelerating and will create new opportunities and pressures for food and beverage product developers.
Research published by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in 2019 found off-premises dining accounted for 60% of foodservice occasions, and nearly 80% of restaurant operators said developing an off-premises strategy was a priority. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and what was a strategic priority became a necessity. Today, many operators are investing more resources in takeout/delivery capabilities than sit-down concepts.
Foodservice operators are taking notice. On Aug. 11, The Wendy’s Co. announced plans to open and operate 700 delivery kitchens over the next five years in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Fifty kitchens are expected to be open this year, and the remainder will be open by 2025.
“This commitment builds on the successful test that we completed in Canada and will allow us to further develop urban markets where we are currently underpenetrated,” Todd Allan Penegor, president and chief executive officer of The Wendy’s Co., said during an Aug. 11 conference call to discuss second-quarter results. “We are still very early in our nontraditional development journey, but we are encouraged by the results that we’ve seen …”
The Wendy’s Co. expects the new kitchens to generate between $500,000 and $1 million in