Citizens New York food hall is the creation of C3 and described as “a flagship shopping center of all our brands,” said C3’s Joey Simons at the Food On Demand Conference.
C3 showed off its new Citizens New York food hall, which combines brick-and-mortar operations with virtual restaurants from C3’s collection of digital brands, including Umami Burger, Sam’s Crispy Chicken and the wildly popular Krispy Rice.
“Krispy Rice just launched with all the TGI Fridays locations,” added Joey Simons, SVP of operations for C3, on a panel yesterday exploring the culinary side of virtual restaurants at the Food On Demand Conference.
He called Citizens food hall “a flagship shopping center of all our virtual brands,” and showed a glossy video. The first opened in late October and more are planned. “C3, we’re born out of a global hospitality company that’s been around for 20 years,” with Sam Nazarian as its CEO and founder, Simons explained.
Vincenzo Rosso, VP of new store opening for C3, said it all starts with the chefs. “We partner with some global, world-renowned chefs. We look at what will fit in various markets, and then, who’s the greatest. We look at cuisine type, who’s that leader in that space. From there we look at, OK, where is the market demand.” Then the data scientists get to work, crunching the numbers to match the chef with the concept with the locale.
Rosso said using social media influencers and other celebrities is important to cut through to consumers, and for “seeing what these different generations connect with. For example, Danny Duncan, we have a YouTube creator, he loves fried chicken. His following, they’ll go and do anything and everything he does.”
YouTube comedian and personality Danny Duncan is known for performing antics like driving an ATV through a ring of fire or driving a tank or eating lots of fried chicken. C3 launched November 10 a division focused on developing new virtual restaurant brands with digital creators, YouTubers and gamers.
All Day Kitchens takes another approach. “What we do is really different. We’re a distributed restaurant platform. We offer our customers and opportunity to expand their customer base,” said Molly McGrath, head of culinary for All Day Kitchens.
“It all begins with culinary,” she added. “We meet with each restaurant individually to design their menu for delivery, for our platform. Then we move them into our strategic distribution system…and all the things that make our satellite kitchens run smoothly.”
She suggested one great way to source new ingredients to add to menus. “One of the things that has taken me by surprise, I would go to TikTok and Instagram,” she said, adding in the past, “I would have massively rolled my eyes. Of course, they have to have the quality to back it up.”
Alp Franko is founder of The Local Culinary, the first ghost kitchen model to franchise. He, too, says food quality is job one. “The most important challenge here is to keep the culinary advantage to the end, when the eater is experiencing the product,” Franko said.
“We have the driver, the car, the scooter, and then in the end it’s delivered to your place. So keeping the culinary consistency, and to keep the right taste of the food until the end, and then we can tell you, bon appetit!”
The Food On Demand Conference concludes today at noon. Read more coverage here.