US seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster has opened its first ghost kitchen in Chicago's South Loop district.
A ghost kitchen is a professional food operation and cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals.
The move allows Red Lobster to develop its off-premise capabilities, including touchless delivery outside the confines of its sit-down restaurants.
The ghost kitchen menu will offer Seafood-Stuffed Mushrooms and Crab-Stuffed Shrimp Rangoon for starters, the Ultimate Family Feast, Lobster, Shrimp & Salmon and Wild-Caught Snow Crab Legs for entrees, and Red Lobster's signature Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
"Off-premise is a huge priority for Red Lobster. We tripled our off-premise sales in the two years before COVID-19 began, and we've tripled them again over the last eight months," said Red Lobster CEO Kim Lopdrup.
In August, private equity group Golden Gate Capital reached an agreement to sell its stake in Red Lobster to a consortium of investors led by Thai Union Group, two experienced Asian restaurant chain executives, and Red Lobster management.
The move marks a significant additional investment into Red Lobster by the Thai seafood giant, which first bought into the group with a $575 million (€481 million) investment in 2016, divided between a 25 percent direct stake worth $230 million and $345 million in preferred shares.
Earlier this month, Red Lobster hired credit adviser Guggenheim as it continued its struggle with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hindering foodservice and the fallout from a Moody's credit downgrade earlier this year.
The new investor group, coming together under a new company named Seafood Alliance, is comprised of key shareholders Paul Kenny and Rit Thirakomen.