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Food & Wine reports that Chipotle is launching a new bowl-centric foodservice concept:  "Opening in March in Santa Monica, Farmesa will feature the same customizable options Chipotle is loved for. Guests will have the option of building a bowl, which includes a protein, green or grain, two sides, a choice of five sauces, and toppings. There will also be a full menu of curated options to choose from: Everything Space-Crusted Ora King Salmon, Classic Santa Maria-Style Grilled Tri-Tip Steak, and sides like Whipped Potatoes and Sweet Potato Chips."

The twist:  It is a restaurant in which you cannot eat.

Food & Wine goes on:  "The restaurant is located inside the Kitchen United Mix food hall at Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. However, don't go there if you think you're dining in, as the restaurant is actually a ghost kitchen for takeout or delivery only. Guests will be able to order a curated or custom bowl from kiosks in the food hall, as well as through delivery and pickup apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats."

In a prepared statement, Nate Lawton, Vice President of New Ventures at Chipotle, said that "lunching Farmesa in the Kitchen United Mix food hall in Santa Monica and partnering with third-party partners for pickup or delivery will allow us to reach a large number of consumers, learn quickly, and evolve our concept and menu so that we can deliver on our goals before expanding,” he says. “We believe there’s an opportunity to serve premium, craveable food every day, and we’re eager to bring this new concept to life.” 

KC's View

I continue to be a fan of concepts like ghost kitchens and dark stores - I think that strategically positioned, with the right mix of product, they can be effective ways to get closer to the shopper and test ideas for relevance and resonance.