First Ghost Kitchen to Open in a Grocery Store in Canada Will be in a Toronto Longo’s [Interview]

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Kitchen Hub is partnering with Longo’s supermarket chain to open the first ghost kitchen concept inside a grocery store in Toronto – the first of its kind in Canada.

The “store-within-a-store” food hall concept is inside Longo’s Liberty Village and the fourth location for Kitchen Hub.

The partners said future location opportunities are being explored.

Kitchen Hub has four new kitchens at Longo’s Liberty Village – Toronto’s beloved Thai restaurant PAI, Montreal’s buzz-worthy Mandy’s Gourmet Salads, rapidly-growing fried chicken and burger spot Cabano’s Comfort Food and authentic Mexican fare from Elia Herrera of Colibri with Tecolote. 

“We are always looking for new ways to exceed the demands of the quickly evolving takeout channel,” said Adam Armeland, Kitchen Hub Co-Founder and CEO. “We identified an incredible opportunity to not only expand our business model by adding a completely new style of virtual food hall, but also benefit our grocery partner by driving foot traffic in-store and our customers by providing streamlined access to unbelievable takeout in a way that’s never been done before. We are thrilled to partner with Longo’s, another Toronto-founded brand, for this exciting new expansion.”

Kitchen Hub (Image: Unbound Productions)

“At Longo’s, our guests are always looking for delicious food as well as increasingly convenient ways to shop for quality meal solutions. We understand the changing demands and behaviours of our guests and take pride in always evolving to deliver the best shopping experience possible,” said Anthony Longo, President and CEO of Longo’s. “Kitchen Hub’s collection of curated offerings from top-tier brands will ensure that we continue to elevate, innovate, and appeal to our guests. We are excited to deliver this new offering to our Liberty Village community.”

Kitchen Hub first launched in 2020 after Armeland was on parental leave with his daughter and he was ‘cooking’ for the family and he was finding different takeout food.

“You started to realize that there was this trend happening around convenience and people wanting takeout food to bring home and not necessarily consume in the restaurant,” he said.

“We have plans next year for another six in Toronto.”

Kitchen Hub (Image: Unbound Productions)
Kitchen Hub Co-Founders (Image: Dortas Photography)

Kitchen Hub offers pickup or delivery via, all major third-party delivery services and from all Toronto locations: 935 The Queensway (Etobicoke), 234 Parliament Street (Downtown East), 1121 Castlefield Avenue (Castlefield Design + Decor District) and the newly launched 1100 King St West, (Liberty Village). 

There are 36 Longo’s stores across Toronto and the GTA.

Armeland said it was felt that Liberty Village and the profile that exists there for the consumer was the right spot to bring the latest Kitchen Hub concept. 

“Can you actually teach people that restaurants are now available in grocery stores where we actually built four industrial kitchens . . . to rent out to restaurants to cook their incredible food?,” he said. 

“We thought this was kind of the perfect spot to test this and see what the possible is . . . We’re exploring future locations together (with Longo’s) and different opportunities. Obviously we have to see what the possible is with this one but we think it’s a really exciting partnership that really benefits both of us to help drive (traffic) from both of our brands . . . into their space.”

Kitchen Hub (Image: Unbound Productions)

Joey Bernaudo, Vice-President of Merchandising for Longo’s, said the introduction of Kitchen Hub gives the supermarket the opportunity to provide its customers with more convenient ways to shop for delicious foods. It brings together Longo’s kitchen with great quality food and partnering with restaurants through Kitchen Hub. 

“It brings multiple types of food that guests can enjoy in one spot,” he said. “We love that location (Liberty Village). We’re new in that location. It’s been about three years now. We think it’s a great opportunity.

“We just thought that that market enjoys different foods, different ways to enjoy food. So we thought that market was a great setup for this and it allows us to offer that guest a meal solution.

“(The Liberty Village store) is about 22,000 square feet. It’s a little bit smaller than our typical store but it is a full offering. It’s got our full kitchen offering. It’s got the full shop offering. The Kitchen Hub piece we’re really proud on how it actually came out. It looks like it was part of the store design from day one and it really fits the marketplace, the decor, the whole overall experience of the store. We’re really pleased with how it came out.”

Kitchen Hub (Image: Unbound Productions)

Bernaudo said Longo’s is looking at other opportunities and exploring them. If there are markets that make sense and fit the store, the community, the partnership, so it’s mutually beneficial, then the grocer will definitely explore them. But there’s nothing concrete at this point.

“But we’re definitely open for discussions as this one at Liberty Village starts to get going. I’m sure we’re going to learn lots of things and hopefully there’s some more opportunities going forward,” he said. 

“The partnership allows us to really anchor . . . meal solutions and really bring top quality food and different offerings for our guests. I think it’s just a unique way to bring something to that community.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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