As early as August, the chef and restaurateur Marc Marrone had the feeling that the state could impose another closure of the restaurant in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. As early as March to early May, the state closed unneeded shops, including restaurants, and only allowed take-out and delivery services. In July, bars not serving food began to rise again when COVID-19 cases closed again.
Marrone decided to open a ghost kitchen at his Graffiti Bao restaurant that served two purposes: to keep its staff busy and to serve hard-to-find dishes in the southwest neighborhood north of Mountain’s Edge.
Gemma Gemmas Square Pies specialize in custom square pies that use a three day fermented pizza dough that is baked in iron pans to create the light and crispy crust. He also serves Italian torpedoes in hot beef and roast pork.
While Marrone is certainly not the first to open a ghost kitchen in Las Vegas, he’s one of the most famous chefs to only add take-away and delivery items to their menu.
There is essentially no restaurant for food in the ghost kitchens, and it grew in Las Vegas during the coronavirus pandemic. Market research firm Euromonitor says the ghost kitchen industry could grow to a trillion dollar business by 2030.
The owners of Cafe Lola and Saint Honoré also opened Pizza Anonymous with Roman-style cakes at Pizza Anonymous this summer. The two couples – Lin and Stephen Jerome, and Alexandra Lourdes and her husband Michael Santos – say they are trying new things not only to fill the void in the Flamingo Road and 215 Beltway food market, but to help themselves and theirs Employees survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Co-owner Stephen Jerome says shooting Roman-style pizza fills a void in the restaurant scene near Summerlin. “We definitely want to keep the people busy and there was an opportunity for us to leverage existing products,” he told Eater Vegas last July. Pizza Anonymous now also has a location in Cafe Lola in Henderson and in Saint Honoré.
Rafael Salines Catalá, who worked for Julian Serrano Tapas at Aria for 11 years, opened JamonJamon Tapas in July, focusing on take-away. Imported Ibérico ham and cheese participate in family celebrations that include roast suckling pig with lechon and crispy baboy-style pork belly, enough food to support a family. Four paellas range from Al Horno with Sofrito and pork ribs or Fideua de Cameron with prawns to Ibérico pork or the popular black paella with calamari, prawns and saffron in squid ink.
Salines Catalá recently moved its store from North Las Vegas at 6135 W. Sahara Ave. Relocated to allow indoor eating, takeout and delivery.
Even celebrities have jumped into the trend.
Rapper Tyga has teamed up with restaurateur Robert Earl and Earl’s son Robbie to launch Tyga Bites, a ghost kitchen that only delivers boneless, oven-baked chicken in 30 cities, including Las Vegas. The chicken bites contain one of three spices – black garlic, black lemon pepper, or peri-peri – paired with 12 sauce options. Other menu items include normal or sweet potato tyga tots, chocolate chip cookies and drinks.
Singer Mariah Carey also worked with Earl to create her Mariah’s Cookies only for deliveries available in Las Vegas and 30 other US cities. Customers can order chocolate chips, triple chocolate chips, heath bar, lemon cooler and flavored oatmeal raisins, as well as holiday flavors like white chocolate cranberry, pumpkin and gingerbread. Options include boxes of half a dozen or a dozen, each of which can contain a flavor or mixture.
Other chefs in Las Vegas followed suit. Jonathan Batista, who runs your Panadas Food Truck, decided to open a ghost kitchen in September to reach more people. Now the ghost kitchen at Cut & Taste in southeast Las Vegas serves take-away empanadas, South Creole food, soups, chicken wings, and meal prep.
To Be Frank opened in October with delivery, take-out and catering options with hot dogs and sausages in Every Grain by Night. The Underground Burger opened with vegan burgers, fries, tots and shakes, without the animal products that are only available by delivery. The ghost kitchen serves oversized three versions of Impossible burgers. Scooped Cookie Dough Bar plans to open its first Las Vegas edible cookie dough location in January.
• Ghost kitchens are the wave of the future. But is that a good thing? [Eater]
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