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The two North Texas residents who operate Public Taco in Dallas are launching a new commercial kitchen inside a Walmart at State Highway 121 and Ohio Drive in Plano, with a plan to sell food from nationally-known restaurants via delivery in Collin County.
The restaurant will also serve as a to-go restaurant for Walmart shoppers.
What’s a ghost kitchen?
Ghost kitchens are one of the fastest-growing segments within the hospitality industry. Ghost kitchens are, simply, large kitchens where delivery drivers from companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash can stop in and pick up food, then drive it to its destination.
Ghost kitchens are different from traditional restaurants because they often do not have dining rooms or servers. They’re also called virtual kitchens or cloud kitchens. Why the vague name? The idea is that it doesn’t often matter where ghost kitchens are located.
Canadian company Ghost Kitchen Brands and D-FW restaurateurs Mohammad Qasim and Joon Choe picked Walmart because the store already has a built-in customer base — and because there’s room in the market to shake up the food-and-drink scene at big-box stores. The Walmart in Plano will be a pick-up spot for delivery drivers but it’ll double as a grab ‘n go lunch or dinner stop for shoppers.
“If you walk into the Walmart, where you used to see a McDonald’s or a Burger King or a Subway, you will now see a restaurant, Ghost Kitchen Brands,” Qasim explains. “You’ll have a touch screen where you’ll walk in and place your order through our proprietary technology. You can go do your shopping and on the way back you can pick up your to-go order.”
The kitchen in Plano is expected to open in July or August 2022, operated under Qasim and Choe’s D-FW-based parent company, Madewell Company.
If successful, the Dallas restaurateurs might sign agreements to operate other Ghost Kitchen Brands across Texas.
“First Plano, then the sky’s the limit,” says Dana Hathaitham, director of business development for Ghost Kitchen Brands, via email.
What kind of food will be sold?
Qasim says the food-ordering experience should feel like a virtual dining hall. Walmart in Plano is expected to sell food from 15 to 28 restaurants, all from one kitchen.
The menu is expected to include: Quiznos sandwiches, Cheesecake Factory desserts, and food from Saladworks, Umami Burger and others. The menu will include a greatest hits from each brand, not entire menus.
Qasim and Choe say their Dallas taco shop, Public Taco, might become part of the delivery- and to-go partnership inside these Walmart ghost kitchens; it was too early for them to discuss it.
Hathaitham says Ghost Kitchen Brands was impressed with Choe’s culinary background. He was born and raised in Plano and is a classically-trained chef who went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
How does food delivery work?
As with nearly any ghost kitchen, the kitchen inside Walmart in North Plano will partner with major delivery brands like Uber Eats and DoorDash.
Customers can expect to open a delivery app and pick a few dishes from restaurant brands they’re familiar with. They may never know it, but that slice of cheesecake will not come directly from a Cheesecake Factory, for instance.
Qasim notes that the ghost kitchen model lets customers combine orders from multiple restaurants on the same tab. “It’s allowing for a lot more variety than they traditionally would get,” Qasim says.
“Now, a family can choose multiple genres of food and pay for one delivery.”
The Walmart Supercenter with this new Ghost Kitchen Brands shop is at 801 Ohio Drive, Plano. The ghost kitchen is expected to open in six to eight weeks.