Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The largest grocery store chain in the United States announced on Wednesday that it's teaming up with a startup to place ghost kitchens in some supermarkets, starting this fall.
Kroger, which owns multiple supermarket brands and operates more than 2,700 locations nationwide, said it's working with Kitchen United on the project.
Ghost kitchens, or shadow kitchens, are businesses that prepare and sell food for delivery only.
Kroger said it will open the first ghost kitchen at a Ralph's location in Los Angeles this fall. More locations are expected to follow later in the year.
"Our customers' appetite for fresh, on-demand meals continues to accelerate, and we remain focused on offering new and innovative products that provide anything, anytime, anywhere," Dan De La Rosa, Kroger group vice president of fresh merchandising, said in a statement.
"This collaboration creates another seamless way for our customers to order lunch or dinner for pick up while they shop for groceries," Craig Gauden, Kroger director of partnership development, added.
The companies said the venture will offer multiple local and national restaurant partners in one location.
Kitchen United has opened six locations nationwide since 2017 and plans to open one in New York City this fall.
Demand for delivery-only food options has risen substantially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many traditional restaurants to close or offer delivery or takeout only.
Kroger operates more than a dozen U.S. retail chains, including Ralph's, Smith's, King Soopers, Fry's and Dillons.