Seven hundred locations is, in fact, a lot, and that’s how many new Wendy’s are currently in the works—except they’re not restaurants in the traditional sense. Trade publication QSR Magazine reports that Wendy’s has come to an agreement with REEF, a ghost kitchen company, to open up 700 new locations across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This comes on the tail end of a successful ghost kitchen run of eight delivery-only Wendy’s locations in Canada. Fifty new delivery-only kitchens are slated to open this year alone, and the rest will be open by 2025.
“The demand for convenient delivery solutions means we must look for opportunities beyond our traditional restaurant formats, especially in dense urban areas,” said Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s President, International and Chief Development Officer. “This partnership with REEF is testimony to our ambitions, the potential we see to grow our beloved brand and our quest to reach more customers in more ways.”
I guess I’m not surprised. There’s a White Castle ghost kitchen not terribly far from me in Chicago. These kitchen units are pretty much the cubicle version of restaurants, and they aren’t generally dealing with customer service, so it’s not like you need an entire dedicated fast food building for one location. Interestingly, REEF will be the first Wendy’s franchisee in the United Kingdom, so this might be breaking novel ground overseas. This all makes sense, since Wendy’s cited delivery as one of its saving graces throughout the pandemic.
Centralized ghost locations ideally mean short delivery transit times, although, as Block Club Chicago noted, in a dense urban environment they can be a pain in the ass for neighbors with all the additional traffic, especially on a narrow street with little parking for drivers. Block Club adds that delivery workers are even parking in resident driveways—it’s that congested.
Either way, if you suddenly see a new Wendy’s pop up in your third-party delivery app with no known Wendy’s locations nearby, this might be the reason why. Hopefully the ghost kitchens offer plenty of free breakfast sandwiches.