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Jollibee opens first ‘cloud kitchen’ in US

/ 04:07 AM June 22, 2020

Fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corp. has rolled out in Chicago the first of what could be a string of its American “cloud kitchens” —unmarked food production and delivery hubs without any dine-in facility in discreet and low-rent urban locations.

The launch of this new business format is part of the P7-billion global business restructuring mapped out by Jollibee to cope with what could be a prolonged fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Situated in Chicago’s bustling River North neighborhood, Jollibee Chicago River North Cloud Kitchen is a fully equipped kitchen focused exclusively on fulfilling delivery and pick-up orders launched at this time that many consumers around the world are forced to stay at home.

The new format allows the brand to reach consumers in high-density metro areas quickly and efficiently during its 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily operating hours.

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The River North cloud kitchen, which opened on June 18, added to Jollibee’s existing footprint in the Chicago area, where it also operates stores in Skokie and on Elston Avenue. It is seen to make Jollibee more accessible to consumers from major Metro Chicago neighborhoods, including River North, Lincoln Park, The Loop and Chinatown.

“We are very excited for the milestone launch of Jollibee’s first-ever cloud kitchen in a prime Chicago location,” Maribeth Dela Cruz, president of JFC North America-Philippine brands, said in a recent statement.

“Thanks to the unique cloud kitchen format of this new location, we are able to adapt to the current difficult environment of the pandemic while still growing our delivery capability and our off-premise business in a key market. Now, Metro Chicagoans will be able to experience the joy of our signature offerings from the comfort and safety of their own homes,” she said.

This new outlet will operate out of the Kitchen United outpost in River North, located at 831 N Sedgwick St., Chicago, IL, 60610.

Kitchen United is a leading innovator in the cloud kitchen space in cities throughout the United States, providing space to help restaurants like Jollibee grow revenues by entering new markets and offering offsite services without heavy capital outlays.

Earlier, Jollibee launched its food delivery business in the United States and Canada via tech platform DoorDash.

As Asia’s most valuable restaurant chain braces for poor earnings performance this 2020, it intends to streamline nonperforming stores and beef up delivery, take-out and drive-through services across its businesses around the world, most importantly in its largest markets—the Philippines, China and North America. The expense provision for this transformation—which assumes that the world will not quickly revert to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic period—is being set up in the second quarter of 2020 and will be incurred mostly within the year.

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The planned changes will include the rationalization of the number of restaurants within certain geography or area, rationalization of resources deployed in the restaurants, implementation of safety and social distancing protocol in the dining area, investment in digital commerce and technology, increase in the capacity for delivery-to-home and office, take out and drive through, installation of mobile applications to facilitate food ordering and payment, the establishment of cloud kitchens and the rationalization of production and distribution facilities.

As of end-April, JFC had a global network of 5,945 stores, of which 3,317 were in the Philippines. INQ

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