GREENSBORO, N.C. — At the beginning of the pandemic, when restaurants were forced to shut their doors, it didn’t take long for people to realize they could still get meals delivered from their favorite eateries, even if they had closed their doors, or vacated their location altogether.
That’s because those restaurant owners saw an opportunity to do things differently.
It’s called a “ghost kitchen.” The idea is, those owners can still produce meals, but only for delivery. They do so without the brick-and-mortar spaces, or often, with several within a single space.
“COVID really put some fire on that,” said Erick Miller, director of real estate for Charlotte-based The City Kitch.
Being able to make money, while avoiding large overhead expenses, saved many of the restaurants which chose to adopt the ghost kitchen concept. It’s something The City Kitch is looking to capitalize upon, and they’re looking to do so in the Triad.
“Our timing of engaging the City Kitch, it was perfect,” Miller said.
The City Kitch looks to provide commercial kitchen space, which can be leased and shared.
“High-end equipment that we own, service and maintain,” Miller said.
The concept was successful in Charlotte, resulting in an expansion to two facilities. Greensboro’s next, with The City Kitch moving into what used to be the J&S Cafeteria, at 601 Milner Drive.
“Greensboro came up as a fantastic location to expand to,” Miller said.
City Kitch believes it provides what 95 percent of food concepts require. The Milner Drive location will feature 15 kitchen “suites,” some of which have been pre-leased. There will also be a shared kitchen prep area, accounting for about half of the cooking space in the building. It will also feature a “front of house” area, where people can walk in to order or pick up their food.
“Think food trucks, caterers, bakers that come in and have a specific window and time they need to prepare something,” said Miller, of who may utilize the shared kitchen “hotline” memberships.
There’s also a management team that will be on site, to reduce the number of administrative burdens the tenants would have to shoulder.
“So that they can focus on the food, on the quality product, the go to market, the speed to market,” Miller said.
The idea spread throughout Charlotte organically, Miller says, adding that both of their locations are fully leased.
“My observation is the chef and culinary community is a very connected group, and when something good comes out it’s shared,” Miller said.
Miller also believes the location will allow the businesses to reach customers all over the Piedmont-Triad.
“Our belief is this model is sustainable,” he said. “We have the ability in these facilities to adapt some as the market changes a little bit.”
The City Kitch hopes to open its Greensboro location by the end of July.