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WEB EXCLUSIVE A virtual food court is coming to Wake County—and it’s bringing a plethora of flavor to the Triangle.
Taking up the old Golden Corral space on Capital Boulevard, David Foye’s Flavor District will be the largest ghost kitchen in the Triangle, housing a number of different restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. Customers will have the ability to order from one or multiple restaurants via the website and either pick up their food, or have it delivered—aka one-stop dining at its best.
“Ghost kitchens are beneficial right now because people aren’t necessarily always looking for a great dining experience,” says Foye, who also owns two commissary kitchens in the Triangle. “Sometimes you just want great food where you are, and it gives people the opportunity to have great food delivered to them at their given location.”
While the pandemic served as a catalyst in the surge of ghost kitchens—or kitchens where meals are prepared but have no seating for diners—food delivery has been on the rise for years. In fact, between 2015 and 2020, the food delivery market revenue grew 204%, thanks in large part to the popularity of delivery apps, according to Business of Apps. Ghost kitchens can help restaurants meet this delivery need without paying for the overhead of brick-and-mortar dining areas.
“A lot of restaurants have really been hit hard with COVID, and this offers a lot of flexibility for startup food businesses and restaurants within the given area,” says Foye. “If you look at the average strip mall restaurant that pays for a kitchen that has six tables for dine-in, you hardly ever see anyone in there. The vendors are paying for their real estate, and this really gives them the opportunity to lower their operating expenses and be more profitable in a trying time for a lot of restaurants—and for the restaurant industry.”
Foye hopes to provide opportunities for both restaurants looking to step up, as well as those needing to step down from a full-service restaurant to only delivery and takeout. He also wants to make his ghost kitchen a little less opaque than others.
“Many ghost kitchens are just that, so no one knows where the restaurant is or the location of where their food came from,” says Foye. “It’s a mystery to them, and it scares a lot of customers. The Flavor District is in a very visible place off of two major roads that pretty much join North Raleigh and Wake Forest. It gives people an opportunity to know where their food came from, and they also have the opportunity to go to that location and pick their food up.”
With Euromonitor International predicting that ghost kitchens could reach a $1 trillion market by 2030, it looks like Foye headed in the right direction.
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