Virtual restaurant platform Kbox Global announced this week it has raised £12 million (~$15.5 million USD) to expand its food delivery concept. The round was led by London-based venture firm Balderton Capital, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
Founded in 2019 in London, Kbox operates more than 30 delivery-only restaurant brands. It licenses these brands, along with a technology stack, to restaurants and other foodservice operations looking for incremental revenue to add to their businesses.
To do this, Kbox assesses each restaurant, including its location and main demographic, then uses those factors to choose the most relevant virtual restaurant brands for the business to offer. Restaurants cook and fulfill the orders themselves, with their existing staff, while Kbox’s tech stack integrates with third-party delivery services that handle the last mile of the delivery.
The company says there are no upfront fees for restaurants looking to utilize this concept, which is a way for restaurants to diversify their food offerings without investing in a full brick-and-mortar operation. In essence, restaurants are turning themselves into ghost kitchens for Kbox brands by partnering with the company.
The idea of one restaurant licensing and running a completely different brand from a third-party is a more recent development in the world of ghost kitchens, though Kbox isn’t alone in expanding the concept. Chicago-based Wow Bao said in April it was licensing its own menu to other restaurant brands in much the same manner as Kbox. Some Fatburger locations double as ghost kitchens for the chain’s sister brand Hurricane Grill & Wings. And let’s not forget about the celebrities launching their own virtual restaurant brands that existing businesses cook and fulfill.
Needless to say, restaurants need any extra revenue they can get right now, thanks to the pandemic shuttering dining rooms left and right and all but forcing many brands to go the ghost kitchen route. However, we’ve yet to see many numbers about how financially fruitful it is to run a third-party brand out of one’s own restaurant kitchen.
For its part, Kbox says it is on track to have 2,000 of these kitchens in the UK before the end of 2021, and is also in the midst of an international expansion. The company has franchise agreements in Australia and India and says operations will launch in another eight countries at some point next year. The new capital from Balderton will support this expansion, as well as help Kbox establish a presence in the U.S. in earl 2021.