It looks like Gopuff, which is best known for ’round the clock, half-hour grocery delivery, is expanding into the ghost kitchen business. According to HNGRY (subscription required), Gopuff is hiring more than 100 cooks, managers in states across the country including Arizona, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania to be a part of its new ghost kitchen endeavor (hat tip to Grocery Dive).
A job description for a Kitchen Associate in Chandler, Arizona on Gopuff’s site reads:
As a member of Gopuff’s new Fresh Food & Local team, the Kitchen Lead role is crucial to contributing to the success of Gopuff Fresh & Local by leading and managing a vertically integrated ghost kitchen.
Ghost kitchens are commercial kitchen facilities without dining rooms that restaurant brands can rent out to create delivery-only concepts. Meal delivery and takeout, of course, have risen in prominence over the past year as the pandemic forced the closure of dining rooms across the country.
Gopuff, which has micro-fulfillment centers in 650 cities in the U.S., raised a whopping $1.5 billion in funding earlier this year and acquired fleet management company RideOS last month. The general thinking at the time of that acquisition was that RideOS would be used as part of its core grocery delivery operations. But as Grocery Dive points out, that same feet management technology could also be used for routing restaurant meal deliveries.
The ghost kitchen space has certainly been a hotbed of activity over the past year with a number of players launching and expanding services. But perhaps what is more interesting about Gopuff’s hiring spree is the latest example of the lines between restaurant, grocery retail and ghost kitchen blurring. DoorDash, which started out as a restaurant delivery service, launched its own ghost kitchen and is expanding further into grocery delivery and expanding it own dark delivery only Dash Mart stores. Walmart is doing virtual food courts via ghost kitchens. And ghost kitchen operator C3 is running ghost kitchens out of hotels and residential spaces.
For Gopuff, adding hot meals to its existing grocery delivery business makes sense, given that it aims to complete deliveries in a half-hour. In that short amount of time your restaurant food arrives hot, while your pint of ice cream stays cool. Now the onus is on Gopuff to communicate clearly what it’s brand proposition is, so people will order both from the company.