Burger King said over the weekend it is trialing its first-ever delivery-only restaurant, a location in London, UK that opened on Sunday. The burger chain said this new venture has the potential to reach over 400,000 customers in the North London area.
For its first delivery-only initiative, Burger King has partnered with FoodStars, the commissary kitchen company bought by Travis Kalnick’s CloudKitchens back in 2019. Customers will be able to order meals for delivery via third-party service Deliveroo. Service from Just Eat and Uber Eats will be available soon, too.
The expansion to delivery-only service comes just as the UK is in the process of opening back up. From today (May 17), restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars in England, Scotland, and Wales are finally allowed to serve customers inside, with certain restrictions around social distancing and the size of groups. But while consumers will no doubt flock back to restaurant dining rooms, food delivery is expected to remain a popular option for many. This is less about a fear of the dining room and more about new habits getting established during COVID-19-related lockdowns. Many consumers who had never before ordered delivery got comfortable with the concept during the last year or so, and will continue that behavior for the long term.
Burger King is one of many major QSR chains responding to this change. Chipotle announced its own ghost kitchen initiative in 2020, for example. And many chains are redesigning overall store designs to accommodate more off-premises formats. On its recent earnings call, Wendy’s said 30 percent of a planned 1,200 new locations will be “nontraditional units,” a label that includes delivery-only locations and ghost kitchens. Like Taco Bell and Burger King, the chain has introduced new store designs that feature little or no dining room space.
Burger King has not yet said if its ghost kitchen initiative will expand to other UK locations and eventually to other countries. Presumably, the chain will first test the success of this endeavor before announcing any new delivery-only locations.