- C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) has partnered with Chowly, a point-of-sale integration company, which will give its 10,000-plus kitchen partners across the country access to C3's 40 virtual brands, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive.
- Chowly's clients will be able to use their existing kitchen space to offer these digital brands, which include Umami Burger and Krispy Rice, to create a new revenue stream. Later in the partnership, Chowly and C3 will develop and launch brands that will be exclusive to Chowly's network. The first of C3's virtual brands will be available at Chowly restaurants this summer for pickup and delivery via C3's Citizens Go app.
- This partnership will build on C3's growth trajectory. The company's brands are currently in 250 kitchens with plans to reach 1,000 locations in the U.S. by the end of the year and 12,000 locations by 2023, C3 CEO and founder Sam Nazarian said in the press release.
C3 has been leveraging innovative partnerships to expand its digital brands. Earlier this year, it teamed with apartment operator Akara Living to integrate ghost kitchens into new serviced apartment communities. The company also struck a deal to put its kitchens in hotels and has plans to open digital food halls in New York and Atlanta, with locations in Seattle, Miami and California also in the works. But C3's partnership with Chowly offers more rapid expansion.
C3 will launch its brands with select large-scale enterprise partners in high-demand markets on Chowly's platform over the next three months, according to the press release. Chowly's enterprise brands include Dickey's Barbecue Pit and Captain D's, according to its website. Chowly plans to then expand C3's brands to smaller partners and outer markets, eventually making them available to all of its 10,000 U.S. restaurant clients. The restaurants will also receive C3 marketing support and integration on C3's delivery and ordering app, Citizens Go.
While many restaurants have been experimenting with virtual brands and ghost kitchens, others are expanding through host kitchens (like Chowly's network) by partnering with operators who prepare food in their own kitchens and facilitate delivery and takeout. The host restaurant shares the revenue while the brand saves money by not having to rent out space in a ghost kitchen facility.
Wow Bao has used this model since 2019 and expects to reach 1,000 locations by the end of the year. It started 2021 with 150 locations. Nathan's Famous partnered with Franklin Junction in June to add its Arthur Treacher's fish-and-chips brand to Franklin Junction's Host Kitchen network. The hot dog chain, which has over 50 locations operating through Franklin Junction, also works with the company to offer its hot dog brand and Wings of New York menu. Famous Dave's has also partnered with its existing franchisee PDX Partners to offer Famous Dave's for takeout and delivery at two of the operator's Johnny Carino's restaurants in California.