- Saladworks is launching 20 delivery-only locations by March 25 in partnership with Combo Kitchen in central Florida, the companies announced Thursday. Combo Kitchen is a franchise system that connects restaurants that can serve as host kitchens with brands that can be operated out of the host's existing kitchens.
- These Saladworks units will be hosted by WingHouse Bar & Grill locations, and are part of the salad chain's broader non-traditional unit expansion. Saladworks has opened more than 42 locations in the last year, per the company's press release.
- Saladworks has also partnered with Reef and national grocery chains, including Kroger and Ahold-Delhaize subsidiary Giant, as it works to grow its store footprint without relying on brick-and-mortar real estate investment.
By targeting off-premise and non-traditional growth, Saladworks is betting on the longevity and profitability of models that expanded rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's a gamble major restaurant chains and restaurant-adjacent technology platforms are increasingly investing in. Wendy's announced in its Q4 2021 earnings call that about 50% of its new restaurants will be nontraditional formats in the coming years, for example. Reef has also pushed into airport foodhalls, and Kitchen United is turning shopping mall food courts into off-premise delivery hubs.
In Saladworks' case, Combo Kitchen's host kitchens allow the chain to experiment with its menu and offerings in a large market without significant investment in labor, capital or real estate costs.
"This partnership between WingHouse and Saladworks is a perfect example of how Combo Kitchens facilitates win-win situations for restaurant owners looking to capitalize on the growing takeout and delivery market with minimal investment or disruption to operations," Combo Kitchen CEO Hossein Kasmai said in a statement.
A growing number of restaurants are becoming host kitchens in order to access a second stream of income through existing, and sometimes underutilized, kitchen space.
"Operating entirely behind the scenes and without any disruption of their typical operations, Winghouse restaurants offering Saladworks delivery will be able to increase revenue streams and volume," the release states.
Dickey's is also expanding through a Combo Kitchen partnership. In June, the barbecue chain announced it would open over 100 U.S. locations with the host kitchen platform through 2022. The partnership gives outside operators access to the company's two virtual brands, Big Deal Burger and Wing Boss, which debuted last year.