Another food trend taking shape amid the pandemic is the rise of the makeshift food hall: outdoor setups that allow customers to order dishes from a variety of neighboring vendors.
Joining that concept is a digital version, of sorts, called ChefStable Kitchen Collective.
The catering arm of Kurt Huffman's omnipresent restaurant group launched the online service Dec. 29, which features a wide range of menus from seven takeout-only food establishments.
Since they're all under one umbrella, users can select items from multiple eateries in one order. That means if your partner is in the mood for SoCal-style burritos, but you're craving teriyaki and kimchi, the Collective can accommodate both and potentially stave off a what's-for-dinner argument.
The current lineup of restaurants includes everything from smoked beef and pork sandwiches to vegan, Asian-inspired noodle bowls. Additional menus are scheduled to come online in the coming weeks.
All the dishes are ideas from members of the ChefStable team that have been tested for their to-go durability. The first to launch in September was Charlie's Hot Chicken, specializing in Nashville-style birds. Most recently, chef Alex Marshall of Kex and Dóttir has developed three different restaurants, each inspired by his own cravings that he doesn't see available elsewhere in town.
Don't think of it as a ghost kitchen—a business model meant to reduce operating costs by eliminating on-premises dining. Huffman wants customers to identify with the people behind the meals, even if they never get to interact with them.
"There's something about the term 'ghost kitchen' that implies the absence of a person, an anonymity," Huffman said in a press release. "The ChefStable Kitchen Collective is quite the opposite…perhaps we're an anti-ghost, ghost kitchen? While we are a high-volume production kitchen that we've centralized, we're very much driven by our chefs and their passion for the food."