Neighborhood Eats: “It is Like A Little Magic”; Ghost kitchens invade Aurora, Stouffville, Woodbridge
Are you in the mood for Amaya Butter Chicken tonight but your partner prefers Pepes Perogies and the kids are calling everyone for tacos?
There is an app for that.
It’s called Ghost Kitchens and it’s the pandemic’s answer to culinary cravings during the lockdown.
The one-stop pick-up and delivery service has arrived in the York region – in Aurora, Stouffville and Woodbridge.
Best described as a no-mall food court, Ghost Kitchens creates menus from a variety of popular food companies – from Crepe Delicious to Cinnabon.
Ghost Kitchens has many brand name products, including Cinnabon pastries. Ghost Kitchens is a “virtual restaurant” that offers famous grocery brands for pickup or delivery – like a mall food court – without the mall. | Steve Somerville / Metroland
Diners can order online or in person and have the food delivered for a single delivery fee through a third party service provider such as UberEats or SkipTheDishes.
“Why ‘ghost’? Because it’s like a bit of magic, like elf dust, ”says Susi Graf, a Maple resident who is the company’s marketing director.
You don’t have to visit a ghost kitchen to try their fare, but when you do you will find that the food production area is hidden behind closed doors.
“You have found a way to optimize it so that we can present 25 to 30 brands efficiently. There are only two to three employees per location who have been trained in preparing the menu according to the specific procedures of each brand, ”says Graf.
Each place has a slightly different look, but they are all sparse and modern.
For example, the Liberty Village location offers more space as it’s a neighborhood you love to hang out in, while Burlington’s is on the main drag where people stop by but don’t linger.
A newly opened location in Kingston caters to college students.
The Aurora site is a former Asian restaurant so it’s bigger than most and there’s plenty of room for dining, but everything is contactless for now – you probably won’t see kitchen staff, just video screens and kiosks, and payment is cashless .
Ghost Kitchens is now moving to Walmarts with the option of having snacks for kids after shopping or a place to pick up dinner on the way home.
Some of these communities would never have had access to these products, says Graf; For example, the only Canadian location for the Cheesecake Factory is in Yorkdale.
It is the brainchild of Toronto-based entrepreneur and restaurateur George Kottas with the high mission of having a ghost kitchen every 10 kilometers. While it’s not a pandemic-specific concept, the pandemic certainly helped, Graf says.
There were 20 ghost kitchens in 2020, and they’re projected to grow to 120 by 2021, with a large portion in the US, she says.
“Maybe you work the night shift and want to have dinner at 7am, or you study or play at 3am and crave a snack. Those crazy times accelerated trends; We are all discovering how easy and possible it is to order online 24/7. ”
And once customers get used to the convenience, Graf doesn’t think they will ever return.
• 297 Wellington St. E. Aurora
• 8300 Highway 27, Woodbridge
• 6420 Main St., Whitchurch-Stouffville
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In the mood for something, but don’t you know what? Check out our map of other great restaurants in the neighborhood.