New Orleans chicken in LA
The ghost kitchen use case I've been waiting for
A new fried chicken restaurant opened for delivery in Los Angeles last week to lots of excitement. Willie Mae’s Scotch House, a restaurant revered in New Orleans for decades, is opening a new outpost a couple thousand miles away in Los Angeles. Originally, the newest Wille Mae’s set to open in Venice before the end of the summer; but as these things often go, it was delayed.
Instead, the restaurant’s second planned Los Angeles location opened first, a kitchen intended to cook for delivery only, run from a space called Colony in West LA. You could call it a ghost kitchen, if we’re labeling things, though this restaurant feels different than what ghost kitchens have become. In fact, it’s the sort of business I was hoping would take advantage of the delivery-only boom: A notable independent restaurant able to open in new locations, serving well-known food in a new place, all without diluting the original or the new experience.
There’s been potential for this sort of launch as long as there have been ghost kitchens, with some companies lending themselves to supporting small restaurants. CloudKitchens, for example, could be a great success story for incubating and launching independent brands. That potential may go sadly unrealized amid reports of independent restaurants being locked into year-long leases and operating in conditions different from those they were promised.
Somewhere between 2020 and now,
the delivery industry has been overtaken by what I’ll call the ghost kitchen industrial complex. It’s a familiar story in restaurant technology: chasing scale in search of profitability means that many companies involved in the space prioritize the business over the food; expansion over sustainability. It’s attracted a lot of attention and the hype has launched a lot of businesses hoping to capitalize on the trend.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Expedite to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.