As the restaurant industry continues to navigate this challenging time, Wow Bao, the fast-casual Asian concept steaming up bao, potstickers and more, is proud to announce that its groundbreaking Dark Kitchen initiative has surpassed 100 locations nationwide in only a six month time frame. The program, developed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic to assist restaurants and increase margins and profits, is now more vital than ever, as it has been a significant way to help restaurants survive this uncertain moment.
"In November 2019, we created a way to help restaurants grow top line sales and bottom line profits," said Geoff Alexander, Wow Bao President & CEO. "Although we didn't envision this initiative as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are proud to say our Dark Kitchen platform is assisting operators to help pay rent and employ staff in order to survive this difficult time." At Restaurant Next in the panel discussion Host Kitchens Heat Up, Alexander will share how this delivery-only concept is adding to the bottom line of other brands.
Designed for Delivery
Unlike Ghost Kitchens, which allow restaurants to rent space at larger kitchen facilities, Wow Bao's model offers brick and mortar restaurants alternative sources of revenue by using their existing kitchen space to prepare Wow Bao's menu offerings. Items are made and shipped frozen to the participating restaurants, prepared by the restaurant's kitchen staff and made available to consumers through third-party delivery services including, DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub, Postmates and Caviar.
The goal of Wow Bao's Dark Kitchen is for operators to achieve a minimum of $2,000 in weekly sales within the first six weeks of launch. Multiple operating partners have already surpassed $5,000 in weekly sales; generating an annual run rate of $260,000 with a projected bottom line of more than $100,000. Additionally, the Dark Kitchen program revives the supply chain by increasing demand, thereby supporting farmers and food suppliers, as well as the operating restaurants, staff and third-party delivery services in the process.
"When we first started engaging with Wow Bao, our discussions quickly changed from 'why do we want to do this?' to 'why wouldn't we want to do this?'" said Buster Minshew of MFM Group, LLC. "From the onset, we were impressed with the quality of food and the simplicity of execution. We have looked at other Dark Kitchen concepts, but have not discovered any other that is so simple to get up and running. The initial investment is minimal; there is virtually zero prep required so it requires no additional labor, the training tools make it very easy for our teams to absorb into the operation and the food is fantastic. We are proud to be part of the Wow Bao Dark Kitchen team."
"The Dark Kitchen program has been a seamless integration into our operations," says Edmund Woo, Owner of Saskatoon Lodge in Greenville, South Carolina. "I have trained existing employees to handle the production at virtually no incremental cost. The ability to not only continue operating during such a vulnerable time, but to help increase margins, is instrumental to help maintain business."
Seeing the direct and immediate results of the Dark Kitchens, and understanding its extraordinary potential, Wow Bao has invested into making this concept another official arm of the business, appointing Deborah Matelliano to Vice President of Dark Kitchen Development. Deborah spent the last three years at UberEats, during which time she scaled their Virtual Restaurant account segment across the US and Canada.
"We are thrilled to welcome Deborah to the team. Her extensive experience in the field and enthusiasm for the restaurant industry are exactly what we were looking for when creating this new position," said Alexander. "The industry is going through a remarkable and daunting transformation right now, and having Deborah at the helm of a program that not only helps restaurants, but allows them to thrive during these challenging times, enables our team to do what we do best, serve our customers."
Wow Bao's Dark Kitchens can be found in more than 55 cities in 22 states. There's a pipeline of more than 100 additional locations slated to open by the end of year.