Aposto, Wilma Wunder, Burgerheart and, of course, Enchilada, to name but a few – the concepts of the Enchilada Group are familiar figures in German gastronomy, places to feel good, meet and enjoy, just like the many individual establishments, including three quaint Ratskeller, a traditional German restaurant located in the basement of city hall. For more than 30 years, these successful restaurateurs have been introducing one innovative concept after another. Now the Upper Bavarians are opening up a whole new dimension with ghost kitchens.
The history of the Enchilada Group is impressive. The first Enchilada restaurant in Munich opened in 1990. With its Mexican joie de vivre and culinary specialties typical of the country, combined with fresh cocktails, it set a gastronomic trend at the time – today there are 31 Enchiladas restaurants throughout the country.
From its first Enchilada restaurant, the group has repeatedly demonstrated the right flair for gastronomic concepts: The Aposto – pizza, pasta, grill and drinks combines modern Mediterranean cuisine with unusual pizza and pasta creations. Lehners Wirtshaus concept offers German culinary delights all day long in a modern pub atmosphere. The high-quality burger concept Burgerheart consistently focuses on quality and variation, with fresh ingredients from the region, flawlessly grilled meat and veggie options, as well as homemade sauces. The Enchilada Group’s newest development is Wilma Wunder, a versatile all-day concept that dazzles with a changing ambiance throughout the day.
Depending on the time of day, Wilma Wunder is a cafe, bistro, restaurant or bar. The individual projects, such as Carl’s Brauhaus and Wirtshaus Lautenschlager in Stuttgart, Zenz in Mainz, and Riegele Wirtshaus in Augsburg are based on Lehner’s Wirtshaus, but are more individual and adapted to the city where they are located. In addition, they have three Ratskeller in Augsburg, Ludwigsburg and Saarbrücken.
Multi-brand concept turns ghost kitchens into a food court
Will ghost kitchens now also be joining this diversity? Why? If you ask Dennis Müller, the board member responsible for the ghost kitchen division at the specially established franchise, one thing quickly becomes clear: These pros aren’t doing it in spite of the current range of restaurants, but because of it. “We’re bringing our full-fledged restaurant concepts into delivery with ghost kitchens – that’s certainly the biggest difference from other concepts that start as pure ghost kitchens with virtual brands,” says Müller. “We have created our own little food court.”
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It’s set to start in 2023. The delivery business is seen as a completely separate task from the restaurant business. “In operation, these are two totally different things,” says Müller. “However, we developed both worlds on a single platform. This saves costs. Ghost kitchens and restaurants go hand in hand in terms of cross-media marketing, for example.” The expert is not worried about cannibalization effects, on the contrary: “We see ghost kitchens as an additional service for guests. The ghost kitchens also draw attention to the restaurants.”
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Hybrid ghost kitchens – not a trend for everyone
So what’s the Enchilada Group’s take on the hybrid Ghost Kitchens that are so trendy today, that is, ghost kitchens that also offer spaces for dine-in and pick-up? Stephan Leuschner, ghost kitchen expert at Rational, explains their popularity. “They create a personal flair. And if there is something more tangible, that automatically increases loyalty. Guests are also more likely to give feedback.” Dennis Müller says, “That’s why we already have our restaurants. And we certainly don’t want to get in the way of them! However, hybrid ghost kitchens are not our focus, especially at the beginning. We can save on these costs!”
Digitization is the key to success
No doubt about it, Digitization is still the name of the game in ghost kitchens and restaurants alike. “Restaurants and ghost kitchens may be two separate entities, but they use the same developer teams and the same digital solutions have been developed for them,” explains Daniel Gantenberg, CEO of the Enchilada Group for Concept Management, IT and Digitization. This includes always having an overview. “I can keep an eye on all data in real time,” the manager stresses. Automation is also crucial. “The guests expect the same familiar recipe for every order.” Stephan Leuscher also mentions the skills shortage. “In the future, there will be less creative cooking and more intelligent cooking appliances,” he predicts.
And this also applies to the Enchilada Group, which will increasingly rely on ConnectedCooking in the future. But digitalization is already a matter of course in Upper Bavaria. “The tools we use specifically through the companies, for example, are Foodnotify for merchandise management, costing and kitchen books,” says Gantenberg. “We use Sell&Pick for controlling and Amadeus360 for the online shop, checkout and dispatching. The challenge here is to connect all the tools together in order to create your own digital ecosystem. The merchandise management is linked to ordering, as is the kitchen book and ultimately the heart of our kitchens, the combi-steamer, which can always finish our products to the same quality and also be supplied with recipes centrally at any time, regardless of which employees.”