Monday, October 7, 2019

Are Virtual Restaurants the Future of Retail Foodservice

Chain restaurants customer counts continue to crumble as convenience stores, and grocery stores develop, create, and display more fresh meals that are Ready-2-Eat and or are just Heat-N-Eat. Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® believes virtual restaurants with highly trained food marketers will be ‘The Next Big Thing’ or sector to fuel growth within the restaurant sector.
Here is a great example; Junzi Kitchen, which recently received $5 million in an early funding round, is looking at ghost kitchens and other outside-the-box models to fuel its growth. Here is the story:
“Yong Zhao, the co-founder and CEO of Chinese fast-casual concept Junzi Kitchen, noticed a disheartening trend: Neighborhood Chinese takeout restaurants—most of them mom-and-pop operations—are closing at a fast clip as their owners retire and the next generation opts not to carry on the business.
So, the New York City-based Junzi Kitchen, which last month received $5 million in an early funding round, is using a portion of its investment money to explore buying out some of those independent operators and turning their stores into new restaurants focused on “more elevated Chinese takeout,” according to Zhao.
Zhao, who grew up in China and moved to the U.S. to attend graduate school at Yale University. “We can take a huge market share within a short period of time because of the existing infrastructure.”  “We are right now researching it, putting together a team around it and developing a menu,” said
Zhao hopes to have at least one of those refurbished Chinese takeout restaurants running in the next six months. Now, Zhao raised $5 Million how many of you could do the same thing with a food or restaurant sector in which you are comfortable?  Johnson  believes lots of you!
OK, back to Junzi Kitchen, which opened its first unit near Yale in 2015 and now has restaurants near Columbia University, New York University and Bryant Park in Manhattan. The chain plans to open a fifth store in coming weeks.
The concept (in Chinese philosophy, a junzi is a person of integrity), grew out of work at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute in which Zhao and his partners wanted to create food more as it’s actually eaten in China and less like the deep-fried dishes with sticky-sweet sauces many Americans associate with the cuisine.
“Chinese food in China is so different,” he said. “There’s the rich culture behind it. … Let’s reverse process Americanized Chinese food to the Chinesification of the American restaurant.”
So Zhao and his team have created a menu that blends traditional Chinese flavors with formats familiar to Americans. The Junzi Kitchen menu includes options such as northern Chinese noodle bowls with a variety of toppings and bings (meats and fillings wrapped in thin dough).
Junzi has also partnered with virtual kitchen operator Zuul Kitchens to launch a delivery-only spot in Manhattan later this month. “Zuul Kitchens is a great opportunity for us to understand the delivery landscape,” Zhao said.
Junzi’s $5 million funding round was led by LDR Ventures, an initial investor in Sweetgreen, as well as Union Square Hospitality Group President Chip Wade and others. Zhao is working on raising funds for the concept’s next round of expansion. Ok, all of your regular readers, what are you waiting for? Need help call us? This is where we excel Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat fresh Food? So, What’s for Dinner?
Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

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