Food and bev platform C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) this week announced a new partnership with Graduate Hotels to launch the Graduate Food Hall digital kitchen concept. For the venture, C3 will bring its ghost kitchen and virtual restaurant hybrid to Graduate Hotels, which are located in America’s college towns, in the first quarter of 2021.
C3 operates a number of virtual restaurant brands, including Krispy Rice, the delivery-only version of Umami Burger, a collaborative plant-based concept with Impossible, and a caviar bar. The company prepares all orders in its own network of ghost kitchens, which is steadily growing. For instance, C3 just acquired 22 former locations of the now-shuttered chain Speciality’s and plans to convert those into kitchen spaces.
For the Graduate partnership, C3 said it is effectively taking over onsite food operations at Graduate properties. Graduate’s hotel kitchens will be converted into “multi-brand kitchens” that can house several C3 restaurant concepts at once. Both hotel guests and those in the surrounding community will be able to order delivery meals and those for takeout. There will also be some seating in hotel lobbies and gathering areas.
The U.S. hotel industry had its worst year on record in 2020 in terms of both lows in occupancy and revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data provider STR noted that hotels passed the 1 billion rooms unsold mark in 2020, the highest in the industry’s history, and that the first half of 2021 will likely be similar (though conditions are expected to improve in the latter half of this year).
Setting up a virtual food hall that can serve both hotel guests and surrounding homes, schools, and businesses opens up potentially more revenue opportunities for Graduate. At the same time, Graduate’s locations, which are all in major “college towns” around the U.S., will expose C3 and its virtual restaurant brands to a huge number of potential users because of the proximity to universities.
The first implementation of the Graduate Food Hall is expected to debut in Berkeley, California as well as Richmond, Virginia and Tempe, Arizona. Additional locations will follow.