“When people ask what is C3, is it a ghost kitchen company, I say, ‘No, it's not,’” Nazarian says. “We do have ghost kitchens. We do have food halls. But we're a brand company, and we're a technology company to get you the food in the manner you want it. And so, it's definitely a big, foundational part of the way we look at the business, which is the quality of the brand and how it speaks to millennials, how it speaks to people that are for the first time—because they’re a little bit older—ordering online.”
Nazarian says C3 is in 45 of the biggest college towns in the U.S. It's also partnering with REEF Technologies, a company with a mission to turn parking lots into “neighborhood hubs.” Additionally, C3 will operate up to six food halls by the end of Q1. Two hundred to 300 standalone C3 branded restaurants are expected to open by the end of 2023. So when the company realizes its full potential, it will cover delivery, in-store dining, catering, and takeout.
The company wants to be in malls and on main streets around America. It’s taking a comprehensive approach by addressing tier two and tier three cities as much as it targets tier one areas.
“The way I look at it is obviously density is important. So we are looking at areas that have a demand for daytime, nighttime, weekend, weekday. What really makes us unique is that we're able to put up to 15 brands into a kitchen,” Nazarian says. "We own all of our own brands. We create them in-house and with strategic culinary partners like some of our James Beard and Michelin chefs. We’re able to really unlock the value, whether it's a vessel with REEF or whether it's a kitchen in the hotel that was shuttered, whether it's restaurants that we own, whether it's restaurant companies that were buying and have acquired during COVID or post-COVID.”
Granted, because of how some buildings are designed, all locations won’t have the necessary infrastructure to hold each and every brand. But the goal is to have as many brands as possible.
That notion led C3 to CitizensGo, a virtual food hall based in Manhattan West that houses all the brands in one digital space. The concept went into beta test last month and is scheduled to debut in 2021. The first-party platform, created in partnership with Lunchbox, circumvents delivery apps and allows C3 to engage with customers. Users have the ability to pick and choose items from each brand and place them in one shopping cart for delivery.