- Kroger has opened a virtual food court in partnership with Kitchen United at one of the grocery chain’s stores in Dallas, according to a press release on Monday.
- Called Kitchen United Mix, the ghost kitchen houses several local and national restaurants such as Capriotti's Sandwich Shop and Carl's Jr. at the store at 5665 E. Mockingbird Lane. Customers can bundle food from multiple brands into one pickup or delivery order.
- The opening of the virtual food hall marks the latest advancement in Kroger’s push into ghost kitchens and expanded meal solutions to draw shoppers in.
The virtual food court is the first Kitchen United Mix in Dallas and the third that’s opened in partnership with Kroger. The other two are at a Kroger store in Houston and at a Ralph’s in Los Angeles.
At the Dallas location, customers can get food from nine restaurant brands, according to Kitchen United’s website. Customers who want multi-restaurant ordering can do so from on-site digital kiosks or through Kitchen United’s website or Mix app. Shoppers can purchase from individual restaurant brands through third-party delivery platforms Kitchen United Mix is on.
Kitchen United CEO Michael Montagano noted in the announcement that the ghost kitchen is in a prime location near Southern Methodist University, allowing Kroger to further tap into serving college students.
Kroger first teamed up with Kitchen United last summer. The grocery chain also works with restaurant technology firm ClusterTruck, and the companies opened two ghost kitchens inside Kroger stores in the Indianapolis area and metropolitan Columbus, Ohio, in late 2020.
While ClusterTruck offers a range of menu items from its on-premise ghost kitchens, the Kitchen United partnership allows shoppers to buy food from multiple restaurant brands. Keith Shoemaker, president of Kroger’s Dallas division, said in the announcement that the new virtual food hall provides “restaurant-quality” meals that shoppers can order while they purchase their grocery staples.
Kroger’s efforts to house ghost kitchens come at a time when grocers are looking to ramp up their fresh food offerings and draw attention to meal offerings as the pandemic and inflation continue to alter where and how people seek meal solutions.
According to a Placer.ai report in June, Kroger has seen foot traffic slow but the grocer’s prepared foods and ghost kitchen expansions are showing promising impacts on the grocer’s growth. The data firm previously found in May that Kroger’s locations with ClusterTruck in Indiana and Ohio had stronger foot traffic than neighboring Kroger stores. Its June report indicates the Kitchen United tie-up is on a similar trajectory, with the virtual food courts in Houston and Los Angeles seeing higher foot traffic compared to other nearby Kroger stores.
Walmart has also jumped into the ghost kitchen space and is expanding its ghost kitchen footprint with Ghost Kitchen Brands.