On June 18, homegrown fast food giant Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) opened the first of future strings of “cloud kitchens” in Chicago as part of its P7 billion global business restructuring plan given that COVID-19 isn’t set to end anytime soon. Cloud kitchens, also known as virtual, dark or ghost kitchens, are unmarked food production facilities where brands rent a space to carry out services exclusive for delivery and takeout.

Jollibee Chicago River North Cloud Kitchen efficiently reaches customers in high-density Metro Chicago neighborhoods, such as Lincoln Park, The Loop, and Chinatown, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. This milestone for the Filipino fast food chain was made possible through Kitchen United, a leading innovator in US cloud kitchen city spaces that helps brands gain revenue through the introduction of new markets and cheaper capital outlays for offsite services.

“Thanks to the unique cloud kitchen format of this new location, we are able to adapt to the current difficult environment of the pandemic while still growing our delivery capability and our off-premise business in a key market. Now, Metro Chicagoans will be able to experience the joy of our signature offerings from the comfort and safety of their own homes,” says Maribeth Dela Cruz, president of JFC North America-Philippine brands.

When working with a cloud kitchen business model, there are lower operational and upfront costs as high rent, labor, and interiors are less of a concern compared to the traditional restaurant setup. To set up your own cloud kitchen, location, marketing, and partnerships are essential aspects to address in order to establish this virtual restaurant format.

As of April, Jollibee has 5,945 stores worldwide, 3,317 of which are in the Philippines. In an effort to streamline non-performing branches and invest in strengthening and increasing the capacity of its delivery, takeout, and drive-in services, JFC plans to strategize the number of its restaurants in certain locations and the resources that go with it.

Implementing health and safety protocols, investing in e-commerce and technology (such as the installation of mobile applications), and establishing more cloud kitchens are also in the pipeline as the company braces for further decline this 2020.