There are more than 1,000 ghost kitchens in the U.S., but Inspire Brands recently launched one unlike any before it.
The company, which owns Dunkin', Baskin-Robbins, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Rusty Taco, recently introduced Alliance Kitchen, which it called the first ghost kitchen owned and operated by a multi-brand restaurant company. Based in Atlanta, Alliance Kitchen allows customers to order through a particular brand's online ordering platform or via third-party apps.
Food from each of Inspire's restaurants will be offered, except Dunkin'. For Rusty Taco, it will be the brand's first entry into the Atlanta market. Stephanie Sentell, Inspire's senior vice president of restaurant operations and innovation, told CNBC that the company's digital sales have more than doubled to excess of $6 billion.
“Inspire is uniquely positioned to operate a concept like Alliance Kitchen, the first ghost kitchen launched, owned, and operated by a multi-brand restaurant company,” Sentell, said in a statement. “Inspire’s culture of innovation, coupled with our experience operating nearly 2,000 of our corporate-owned restaurants, enabled us to bring this idea to life successfully. We look forward to continuing to test and learn with Alliance Kitchen as we find new ways to provide our guests with convenient, digital-led dining experiences.”
The interior features a segmented kitchen and cross-trained workforce designed to fulfill orders across multiple brands. Compared to five stand-alone restaurants, Alliance's setup reduces labor requirements by 54 percent, cuts square footage needs by 19 percent, decreases equipment costs by 45 percent, and slices energy consumption by more than 50 percent. Catering to third-party delivery drivers, the ghost kitchen also includes a lounge with heated pickup lockers, free wifi, charging stations, and complimentary Dunkin' coffee.
In addition to offering convenience and greater access to well-known brands, Alliance will serve as a testing ground for new labor models, kitchen layouts, and menu items. For instance, Buffalo Wild Wings will use the ghost kitchen to test Flippy Wings, a robotic chicken wing frying solution from Miso Robotics that increases food production speeds by 10 to 20 percent. After experimentation concludes in Alliance, the robot will move to a standalone Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in 2022.
News of the ghost kitchen was first reported in February with the filing of a building permit that states the building is more than 7,000 square feet and cost $2.6 million to construct.