No humans, no problem. RDU is planning to open a virtual “ghost kitchen” in Terminal 2 — allowing customers to order food + pick up the items without ever interacting with any workers.
The kitchen, planned for the former California Pizza Kitchen space in Concourse C, will ask customers to order their food in an app or at a kiosk. Once the food is ready, they will use a code sent to their phone to open a locker to retrieve their order.
The concept will offer several different restaurant’s food options — though the list of brands is not finalized yet. At the Airport Authority meeting last week where the virtual kitchen was approved, potential restaurants included Dunkin’, Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, and local food truck Chirba Chirba.
The ghost kitchen model requires less staff which allows the team to pay a higher wage, David Freedman, RDU’s chief revenue officer, explained at the meeting. Pay will start at $20 an hour, he said.
The app function of the kitchen will allow customers to order before they’re physically in the terminal — whether they’re in the parking lot or in another airport boarding a flight to RDU. The locker function will keep the food heated or cooled as needed.
The opening date for the virtual kitchen is not yet decided. It will be run by REEF (the largest virtual kitchen operator in North America) + the founder of H.U.B.B. Kitchens (which operates a virtual kitchen in the Triangle).
At last week’s meeting, the Airport Authority also announced that taxi service is returning to RDU after the previous vendor quit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Taxi Taxi is expected to begin service this week.