- Creating Culinary Communities (C3) will open a two-story, brick-and-mortar location in Manhattan this month, the company announced Monday. The unit marks the virtual brand platform's first physical location, and includes two full-service restaurants and 13 service kiosks.
- Dubbed Citizens New York, the concept will feature celebrity chef concepts from Katsuya Uechi, Dani Garcia, Masaharu Morimoto, Dario Cecchini and more.
- C3 is the latest company in the digital brands and ghost kitchen space to diversify its service channels. Kitchen United has added kiosk ordering and outdoor seating, and begun partnering with retailers to open physical locations.
C3 has emerged as one of the fastest-growing ghost kitchen operators and virtual brand platforms since launching in 2019. In that time, ghost kitchens and virtual brands have proliferated rapidly, spurred in part by demand for off-premise dining amid the COVID-19 crisis.
But delivery-only operations compete for limited consumer traffic, which could ramp up competition in this segment. At DoorDash's Main Street Strong conference earlier this month, Hudson Riehle, the National Restaurant Association's SVP for research and knowledge, noted delivery comprises only 8% of restaurant traffic. The limits of the delivery market have pushed ghost kitchen operators to move toward omnichannel offerings, as in-person dining, takeout and drive-thrus all represent considerably larger portions of restaurant traffic.
C3's Manhattan location will feature a central kitchen capable of cooking food for the company's 40-plus brands, according to the press release. The food hall will feature takeout and delivery options, which consumers can order on C3's app, as well as on-premise dining. C3 said the decor and design of the food hall will have the ambiance of an upscale restaurant.
"We are thrilled to showcase C3's portfolio of culinary brands all under one roof," C3 founder and CEO Sam Nazarian said in the press release.
C3 has more brick-and-mortar units in the pipeline, too. The company announced in May it will open a 24,000-square-foot food hall in Atlanta in 2022, with plans to launch subsequent locations in Miami, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia and California. The company is also taking over some hotel kitchens in properties owned by Graduate Hotels, a chain of hotels focusing on college towns.
"GO by Citizens supports shifting consumer preferences by allowing them to pick and choose their favorite menu items from multiple restaurants — and conveniently put it all in one single order," the company said in an emailed statement.