The Wendy’s Company is going full speed ahead with ghost — or delivery-only — kitchens.
The quick-serve restaurant cash is partnering with Reef — the largest operator of delivery kitchens in North America — to open and operate 700 delivery kitchens during the next five years across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The rollout follows Wendy’s successful test of eight delivery kitchens in Canada in late 2020.
Wendy's and Reef expect to open approximately 50 delivery kitchens in 2021, with the remainder launched by 2025. Through this commitment, Reef will become the first Wendy's franchisee in the U.K.
"The demand for convenient delivery solutions means we must look for opportunities beyond our traditional restaurant formats, especially in dense urban areas," said Abigail Pringle, Wendy's president, international and chief development Officer. "This partnership with Reef is testimony to our ambitions, the potential we see to grow our beloved brand and our quest to reach more customers in more ways."
Reef has a network of delivery kitchens in over 30 cities around the world. In July, BurgerFi International said it was expanding its partnership with Reef Kitchens to open an additional 15 to 20 ghost kitchens in the second half of 2021.
"We are proud to partner with Wendy's to show how a restaurant brand can successfully and conveniently scale with Reef’s delivery kitchen platform to reach more customers faster and with Wendy's world famous commitment to quality food and service," said Michael Beacham, president of Reef Kitchens.
Ghost kitchens gained momentum during the pandemic as more people relied on delivery. An array of retailers, from Nathan’s Famous to supermarket giant Kroger have entered the space.