Alsea Launches Digital RestaurantBy Jan Hogewoning | Thu, 09/10/2020 - 15:31
Mexico’s largest restaurant franchise group, Alsea, has announced it is launching its first digital restaurant through a strategic alliance with Brinker International. The new restaurant will be called “It’s Just Wings” and will offer a menu that is centered around chicken wings marinated in a choice of sauces accompanied by a range of dips. The concept is simple, there will be kitchens but no dining areas. Instead, the wings are for home delivery only. Alsea is not new to the home delivery market, already offering such services through its Domino’s Pizza and Burger King restaurants, among others. It’s Just Wings is not new either and already operates in more than 1,000 locations in the US and Costa Rica. Mexico will be the third country where this new option will be available. Customers will be able to order wings through delivery applications such as Uber Eats, Rappi and Sin Delantal. The concept is also meant to help lower menu prices.
While the concept of ‘digital restaurant’ may sound colorful, the more commonly used term in the industry is ‘dark kitchen’. These are kitchen-only spaces that cook up food for the customer at home. Dark kitchens have become more attractive during the COVID-19 sanitary crisis. Not only have home deliveries been on the rise with diners staying at home but restaurant groups have struggled to manage their operating costs and are looking for smaller, more confined spaces with lower rental costs.
In an interview with MBN this August, Duncan Montero, General Manager LAC North Region, Burger King at Restaurant Brands International, stated that his group was already testing dark kitchen concepts for a variety of restaurant brands and locations. He indicated that the group wanted to start testing dark kitchens in the near term in Mexico, as well.
According to statistics from the Mexican Association of Online Sales (AMVO), the category of home delivery saw the fastest growth during the months of the sanitary crisis. At the moment, it covers approximately 10 percent of the market, El CEO writes. Another study by Euromonitor, estimated that by 2030, dark kitchens would generate up to US$1 billion worldwide.