Ghost Kitchen network Zuul Kitchens has acquired online food-ordering platform Ontray, according to a Zuul press release. In addition to acquiring key technology assets from Ontray, Zuul has also made the company’s CEO and cofounder, Tyler Wiest, its Chief Technology Officer.
Zuul opened its first ghost kitchen facility in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in 2019. The location serves as a place where restaurant chains like Sweetgreen and Junzi can rent kitchen space to fulfill delivery orders and grow their off-premises strategies.
Philadelphia-based Ontray, meanwhile, has an online ordering platform aimed at smaller restaurants who might not have the cash or inclination to pay the massive commission fees associated with bigger delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash.
Ontray’s software lets restaurants create a custom website integrated with an online ordering platform or add online ordering capabilities to existing sites. The idea is to let restaurants retain control over their own branding and, most important, customer data, two things they must give away when working with third-party delivery services like Grubhub. Restaurants can view sales and customer data, monitor SEO, manage multiple restaurants, and import menus with Ontrays system. Ontray also charges lower commission fees than a restaurant would typically have to pay with a bigger service.
Making delivery more affordable for all restaurants is a major concern right now, particularly with demand for off-premises orders rising steadily and ghost kitchens becoming the new norm in foodservice. By acquiring Ontray, Zuul will be able to offer its restaurant clients more options when it comes to fulfilling those orders.
That in turn could make Zuul a more attractive choice for a wider range of restaurants considering ghost kitchens — especially those with thinner margins who need more visibility into their customer data to stay competitive. “Joining Ontray and Zuul Kitchens is a natural move,” Wiest said in a statement. “Both companies share a similar goal: returning the power and purse back to individual restaurants.”
Zuul has said it will continue to open ghost kitchen locations throughout NYC.