- Wow Bao will open 50 kiosks in 24 cities through a partnership with Automated Retail Technologies and its Just Baked Hot Food kiosks, Wow Bao wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive on Tuesday.
- The vending machines will offer Teriyaki Bao, Mongolian Beef Bao, Chicken Dumplings and Coconut Custard Bao steam buns.
- The Wow Boa/Just Baked vending machines will roll out in hospitals, hotels, bars, schools, airports and casinos. The launch will initially target Florida and Georgia, and the companies expect to aggressively grow across the U.S. and Canada this year and in 2023.
This partnership comes after seven years of research and development, Wow Bao President and CEO Geoff Alexander said in a press release. It coincides with Wow Bao’s Dark Kitchen growth strategy, wherein the company aggressively expands into new markets without having to invest in significant real estate costs.
Through its dark kitchens program, Wow Bao partners with restaurants that use existing kitchen space to prepare and facilitate delivery of its bowls, bao buns and pot stickers. As of May, the company has opened over 600 virtual kitchens. It also partnered last year with Ghost Kitchen Brands to open 100 locations in Walmart stores across the U.S.
To reach more customers, Wow Bao launched its Bao Bucks loyalty program in May to reward customers for ordering off its website. It expects this program to generate repeat customers and increase revenue for its virtual kitchen partners.
Other brands have been testing vending machines as well, including Subway, 800 Degrees Pizza and Jamba. Jamba partnered with Blendid to bring its robotic kiosks to college campuses, Walmarts and shopping centers.