Wendy’s set to open 700 ghost kitchens

A Wendy's mobile ghost kitchen that says "delivery only" on the side.

Written by James Shea

Wendy’s has hitched a ride on the ghost kitchen wagon in a big way. The Ohio-based chain has signed a deal with REEF Technology to open 700 ghost kitchens in the U.S., Canada and the UK.

Reef and Wendy’s began working together in 2020 in Canada, as the hamburger chain began exploring alternative growth strategies. They opened eight mobile kitchens in Toronto. The delivery-only menu includes hamburgers, fries and beverages.

“Building a brick and mortar restaurant in every neighborhood across Toronto may not always be possible,” said Stephen Piacentini, vice president, global restaurant development and recruiting at The Wendy’s Company, at the time “By partnering with companies like REEF, we can bring Wendy’s into dense, urban areas without the overhead of operating a traditional restaurant space.”

Wendy’s and REEF expect to open approximately 50 more delivery kitchens in 2021. The remainder will be launched by 2025.

“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 moved quickly into the ghost kitchen arena since bursting onto the scene last year after raising $700 million from Softbank. The company claims 4,500 locations and 15,000 employees. It focuses on delivery orders from mobile kitchens and shipping containers. The company started as ParkJockey, where it managed parking lots with proprietary software and hardware. It now uses much of the parking lot space to house ghost kitchens operations.

Celebrity chef David Chang partnered with REEF to launch a line of delivery-only chicken sandwiches in Houston and other locations.

“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,” REEF Kitchens President Michael Beacham said.

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