- Reef Technology and Creating Culinary Communities (C3) plan to serve C3's brands from 800 Reef kitchens in the United States by 2025, the companies announced Tuesday.
- Reef and C3's new expansion deal follows the deployment of C3's brands at existing Reef locations. The two companies had already signed a deal to develop 500 units by 2025, and Tuesday's announcement adds 300 units to that expansion plan.
- Reef has signed a series of major franchise deals to develop over 2,300 units in the next few years. C3, which has a portfolio of more than 40 restaurant brands, is also looking to expand its consumer reach by having virtual restaurant brands partner with gamers, YouTubers and other celebrities.
Reef and C3 continue to deepen their partnership. Already, C3 brands operate out of 125 Reef ghost kitchen vessels, Reef said in an emailed statement. The Reef kitchens included in the deal can produce food from between one to six C3 brands, which include Umami Burger, Krispy Rice and Sam's Crispy Chicken.
Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of C3, said in a recent interview with Restaurant Dive that Reef’s model was ideal for C3's portfolio of brands and technological services.
"We provide a suite of brands per vessel, which generate a lot more revenue. ... We also provide our technology, which enables customers to order multiple brands at one time," Nazarian said.
C3 is targeting Gen Z and millennial consumers as part of a global expansion strategy focusing on multiple channels, according to the press release. Last month, C3 opened its first brick-and-mortar food market in Manhattan, a major step in the company's efforts to grow beyond virtual brands. C3 also partnered with TGI Fridays in September, serving Krispy Rice products at the restaurant in several markets, a move which more than doubled sales at those units in the first week.
Reef, which has a network of parking lots throughout North America and develops small, portable ghost kitchens operated out of trailers, offers C3 the potential for rapid expansion in urban markets throughout the U.S. As of October, Reef operated about 450 kitchens in the U.S. and plans to expand to over 800 by year's end, according to Michael Beacham, president of Reef Kitchens.
Earlier this week, Reef announced its acquisition of iKcon, a ghost kitchen and virtual brand operator based in the United Arab Emirates, speeding up Reef's global expansion. Reef, which raised money from Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Co., is not the only ghost kitchen operator ramping up its international development with money from Gulf monarchies. Travis Kalanick's CloudKitchens, for example, raised $400 million from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund in 2019.
Reef's expansion deals put it on track to open hundreds of units every year. The company has signed deals with 800 Degrees Pizza for 500 units, Wendy's for 700, TGI Fridays for 300, and now 800 with C3, for a total of at least 2,300 new units by 2026.