business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  US Foods announced that it is launching a new ghost kitchen initiative that will provide resources to companies looking to start up facilities that provide delivery-only meals.  The company says that it will offer "exclusive tools, proprietary technology and expert one-on-one support from foodservice-industry leaders."

I've not heard of this happening, but I wonder if there are wholesalers offering targeted support to retailers looking to open dark stores?  For that matter, I wonder if US Foods has a component of this initiative that would help food retailers create their own ghost kitchens?

•  A sign of the times…

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that "the owner of four St. Louis-area malls said Wednesday it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by Oct. 1.

"Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL & Associates Properties — which owns West County Center, St. Clair Square, Mid Rivers Mall and South County Center — said in a statement that it had negotiated a restructuring support agreement that will result in the elimination of about $900 million in debt, an extension of its debt maturity schedule and a reduction in annual interest expense of more than $20 million."

It is a familiar scenario, the Post Dispatch writes:  "Malls have been hit hard by the coronavirus, as shoppers have stayed home, retailers quit paying rent and stores shut down, some permanently. Their financial woes, spurred in part by overbuilding and online shopping long before the virus hit, have led some to contemplate a new future, in which malls act less as indoor shopping centers and more as town squares, with, for instance, offices, apartments, restaurants and retail outlets."

•  The New York Times reports that "Airbnb said on Wednesday that it had confidentially filed to go public, taking a key step toward one of the largest public market debuts in a generation of 'sharing economy' start-ups.

"A public offering by the company, which lets people rent out their spare rooms or homes to travelers, would cap a volatile year in which its business was devastated by the spread of the coronavirus. Airbnb had been privately valued at $31 billion before this year, and the company must now convince investors that it can thrive and turn a profit in a new era of limited travel."

•  Gap has announced that it is permanently closing its San Francisco flagship store on Market Street, as well as three other stores there - part of a broader strategy of closing underperforming stores and units where lease obligations were deemed excessive, especially in light of pandemic-induced consumer behavior shifts.

•  From Forbes:

"Krispy Kreme, the maker of an iconic glazed donut that’s best enjoyed seconds after it has passed underneath a waterfall of warm glaze, is set to open its Times Square Flagship Shop in New York City on Tuesday, September 15. The opening comes several months after it was originally planned due to the global pandemic, and plans for operation come opening day have been adjusted to keep guests and employees safe.

"Plans for the flagship, which has been in the works for about three years, already included an exterior walk-up window and an interior grab-and-go counter which, in addition to convenience, now have the added benefit of offering a more socially distanced option for getting your hands on some hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Krispy Kreme’s opening plan includes crowd control initiatives like remote queuing and an online reservation system for guests looking to visit the shop at a specific time."

Krispy Kreme says that the flagship's 'Hot Light' will be on 24/7, which means that "hot and fresh Original Glazed Doughnuts will be available any time of day."  And, the shop will have two production lines, capable of making 380 dozen - or 4,560 - doughnuts an hour.

Yikes.  I don't/can't eat many doughnuts any more;  I save the experience for special occasions, because I can't seem to jog enough to work them off if they're consumed on a regular basis.  But this place seems like nirvana.