Inspire Brands, which owns Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s, and other restaurant chains, has filed for trademarks meant for ghost kitchens, according to Restaurant Business Online.
The company filed “Inspire Kitchen” and “Alliance Kitchen” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January, and both filings mention “food delivery” and “delivery of food by restaurants.” The filings also name-drop ghost kitchens themselves, stating that the concepts will provide “restaurant services, namely providing ghost kitchens and commercial kitchens for use in the preparation of meals and beverages for consumption off premises.”
That Inspire is filing trademarks suggests the company is exploring not just ghost kitchens, but its own ghost kitchens. A growing number of restaurants now utilize the concept, which allows businesses to manage and fulfill delivery and takeout orders without overburdening in-house restaurant staff. To date, however, the vast majority of restaurants have teamed up with third-party providers like Zuul Kitchens, Kitchen United, and DoorDash Kitchens, who provide space, equipment, and other infrastructure to restaurants.
A smaller number of chains have launched their own ghost kitchens. Fat Brands, for example, is outfitting its own in-house kitchens to double as ghost kitchens. Starbucks teamed up with Alibaba’s Heme Supermarkets to operate ghost kitchens in China.
Since Inspire Brands owns multiple brands, it’s not hard to imagine a setup where one single facility can house kitchens for Jimmy John’s, Arby’s, Sonic, and Inspire’s other restaurant chains. Throw in one of Middleby’s recently launched out-of-the-box ghost kitchen concepts, which helps companies build out and equip their facilities, and you’d basically have a self-sustaining ghost kitchen that doesn’t need a major third-party provider like Kitchen United or DoorDash to operate.
That’s rather speculative on my part, since Inspire told Restaurant Business Online that it was “not ready to comment” on the trademarks. However, more restaurants exploring ghost kitchens means we’ll see more approaches to the concept as it moves forward. The most scalable, economically feasible solution — whether that’s teaming up with a third-party kitchen provider, operating one’s own facility, or something else — is yet to be determined.