Famous Dave’s opens a ghost kitchen in Granite City
Ghost kitchens—a mini restaurant or menu inside of an existing restaurant that is exclusively available for delivery or pick up—have steadily increased in numbers in Kansas City.
Famous Dave’s recently opened a ghost kitchen in the Granite City Food & Brewery. BBQ Holdings, LLC is the parent company of both restaurants, so opening a ghost kitchen in Granite City was an easy choice for Famous Dave’s.
“Famous Dave’s has really taken off during the pandemic because it travels well and people have used it a lot for delivery and catering other items, but we talked about how we can combine these two brands,” Adam Lehr, senior vp of operations for BBQ Holdings says. “Ghost kitchens have kind of been around for a while in the periphery of the restaurant industry, but they really kind of found their footing because due to the restrictions people couldn’t dine in the restaurant so what difference does that make where the food comes from. Kansas City is a barbecue town. There’s a Famous Dave’s presence in the Kansas City Market, but there was nothing near Zona Rosa.”
Lehr and his team decided to open Famous Dave’s ghost kitchens in Granite City because of the ease with which they work together under the same parent company.
The ghost kitchens have been received well, according to Lehr. The Kansas City location is their eighth across the country—the first location was in St. Cloud, Mn. Lehr says that the success of their concept locations has allowed the company to remain stable and employ others throughout COVID-19.
“It’s a win-win across the board and allows us to get our food into a market where we otherwise weren’t able to and it puts our people back to work and getting paychecks in the pockets of people that may have been furloughed due to our lack of volume,” says Lehr.
In order to open the Famous Dave’s kitchens inside Granite City, they had to bring in smokers to all of the restaurants. Diners can expect a scaled-back version of Famous Dave’s classic menu and recipes, including their ribs, brisket, chicken. The same taste of Famous Dave’s but packaged neatly in a to-go box.
Lehr says that the ghost kitchens have helped the restaurants recoup some of the losses they incurred throughout 2020. Even so, their profits are still down about 20% from the 2019 numbers. Even after COVID-19 is over, Lehr believes ghost kitchens, in some form, are here to stay.
“[As] dining rooms reopen, we are not seeing the decrease like we thought we would,” says Lehr. “We thought once dining rooms reopened at larger capacities that ghost kitchens would kind of fall off. That has not been the case—they’re still holding on to their volume. What I think is here to stay, is that two restaurants under one roof idea. It might not be a ghost kitchen but it might be more of a dual concept: two restaurants that exist under one roof. We know this dual concept is here to stay. But if it’s in a ghost kitchen or a more traditional service format, I think the jury’s still out as we continue to navigate through COVID-19.”
Ghost kitchens have proven themselves throughout the pandemic. As restaurants begin to reopen, it’s clear that nontraditional ways of dining have made their lasting mark on the restaurant industry.