(WFSB) – A new restaurant trend is popping up in Connecticut.
These so-called ghost kitchens are delivery only operations that run out of existing restaurant kitchens.
A handful of new ghost kitchens opened this week, running out of Bertucci's kitchens, but some say that's going to take business away from local restaurants.
The West Coast trend is making its way to Connecticut.
Ghost kitchens operate out of existing spaces and usually do delivery only.
This is a time where restaurants need every penny that they can get,” said Tyler Anderson, Chef/Owner of Millwright’s Restaurant and Tavern.
That’s one of the reasons why Tyler Anderson, the chef and owner of Millwright’s Restaurant and Tavern, is skeptical of celebrity ghost kitchens.
“That’s taking away from the people who are established, who have made roots in the community, and who are just trying to survive,” Anderson said.
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri has opened five Flavortown ghost kitchens across Connecticut.
“Right now, a lot of restaurants with local owners are struggling in a reduced environment. It’s very hard to work at reduced capacity seating along with other guidelines,” said Chris Sayer, Brewery Legitimus.
Brewery Legitimus owner Chris Sayer says celebrity-owned ghost kitchens could be harmful to local restaurants, especially during the pandemic.
“It’s already a hard-enough environment and this just exacerbates the situation. It’s just a money grab, so to speak. They come in for a couple weeks and they leave, but those are dollars that can go to local businesses,” Sayer said.
Anderson says the ghost kitchens don’t impact him, but he’s concerned for other local restaurants. He says it can make a bad situation worse during the pandemic.
“They won’t be here long, but they’re going to take away valuable revenue from restaurants that need it,” Anderson said.
Sayer and Anderson say they don't have a problem with locally owned ghost kitchens, but they thinks celebrity outsiders could be hurting the economy more than helping.
“You have to create your brand and trust that what you’re providing to your customers is unique,” said Scott Dolch.
Scott Dolch with the Connecticut Restaurant Association says ghost kitchens are a trend that may come and go, but he believes there are benefits to it.
As far as competition, Dolch is watching how consumers react to the new concept and says local restaurants should too.
“We’ll see how it plays out and our current restaurants that are full-service go in that route, and our consumers. You always have to go with the consumers,” Dolch said.
Tyga and Mariah Carey also have ghost kitchens in Connecticut. Mario Lopez and DJ Pauly D are expected to open locations across the nation soon.