Inside INdiana Business

ClusterTruck, Kroger launch new ‘ghost kitchens’

(photo courtesy of ClusterTruck)

FISHERS, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Indianapolis-based ClusterTruck and The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) are expanding their partnership with the launch of two on-premise kitchens, including one in Fishers. The partners say the “ghost kitchens” will occupy about 1,000 square feet of space inside existing Kroger stores where ClusterTruck will prepare meals for quick delivery.

ClusterTruck, which launched its first delivery-only kitchen in 2016, uses software designed to optimize kitchen and delivery operations to ensure food gets delivered within seven minutes of being prepared.

The second new kitchen is located near Columbus, Ohio. The launch of the kitchens follows a pilot that began in December with off-premise ghost kitchens in Carmel, Indianapolis and Columbus.

“Kroger remains focused on providing our customers with fresh food and experiences enabled by industry-leading insights and transformative technology,” Dan De La Rosa, group vice president of fresh merchandising for Kroger, said in a news release. “The new on-premise kitchen, in partnership with ClusterTruck, is an innovation that streamlines ordering, preparation and delivery, supporting Kroger as we meet the sustained customer demand for quick, fresh restaurant-quality meals, especially as we navigate an unprecedented health crisis that has affected every aspect of our lives, including mealtime.”

Kroger says the expansion of its partnership with ClusterTruck is a reflection of an increased use of its digital sales among customers, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grocer says digital sales rose 127% during the second quarter.

The new Fishers on-premise kitchen is one of two new delivery-only kitchens announced by ClusterTruck last month, however, the partnership with Kroger remained a secret at the time.

“ClusterTruck combines leading software, high-quality ingredients, and delicious variety to elevate the prepared food delivery experience,” said Chris Baggott, co-founder and chief executive officer of ClusterTruck. “As the prepared food delivery category continues to explode, we’re thrilled to play such a pivotal role in Kroger’s fresh and forward-thinking meal delivery strategy.”

The new Fishers location is open now at the Kroger store on East 116th Street. The second location in Dublin, Ohio will open later this year.