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Ghost kitchens: Virtual restaurants for food delivery services



EDMONTON -- Eateries that don't exist as a physical restaurant are known as ghost kitchens, and they're making an appearance on Edmonton food delivery apps.

Situated in a trailer in an impark lot, a chef cooks meals for 11 different virtual restaurants.

"We have enabled this delivery-only kitchen concept in a number of cities, including in Alberta," said Dave Barmore, from REEF Technology.

REEF Technology is a Miami-based parking lot operating company in the U.S. and Canada, and they operate all of the impark lots in Alberta.

"We're excited to be one of the companies providing that service in Alberta," said Barmore.

Nine mobile "ghost kitchens" are licensed in Edmonton, the food only available on apps like Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, or on the company's website.

"Over time what we'd hope to do is offer up these sites and leverage the data that we have based on those different brand concepts and really present an opportunity for different local restaurants to leverage our parking real estate there," said Barmore.

Co-Owner of Northern Chicken, Matt Phillips, says he's declined offers to start his own virtual kitchen.

"We're just not interested in doing a second concept out of this space. It doesn't make sense for us," said Phillips.

He says he has no problem with the growing popularity of kitchens making and delivering food from multiple menus, saying it serves a different crowd.

"I mean, we are definitely removing the hospitality from the hospitality industry. If you're not going to have a space for people to come down and enjoy an atmosphere with great staff to interact with, then what's the point," said Phillips.

Barmore says even with summer fast-approaching, the REEF Technology ghost kitchen won't offer seating for customers to eat on-site, they will remain as delivery or pick-up only.

"The convenience of this is that the consumer can, through their delivery apps, order this via courier or take-out and then enjoy it at their leisure," said Barmore.

AHS says ghost kitchens must adhere to the same food safety regulations as any other restaurant. The city is currently reviewing how it licenses ghost kitchens, and whether changes are necessary.