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‘Ghost kitchens’ and ‘virtual food halls’ might be the next frontier in Twin Cities dining

Sandwiches had been on Carrie McCabe-Johnston’s mind for two years.

Ever since a family vacation to Florence, Italy, where labyrinth stone streets teem with purveyors of freshly baked bread stuffed with salami or roasted porchetta, she’d been thinking about opening a Florence-style sandwich shop back home.

The founder and chef of Bonafide Hospitality, which includes Nightingale in Minneapolis, McCabe-Johnston was searching for a place for the shop last fall, but put the idea on hold when she didn’t find the right fit.

Then came COVID-19, and as her other dining rooms and bars temporarily closed to customers, sandwiches came to mind once again. Only this time, finding a space wasn’t necessary.

McCabe-Johnston launched Lake City Sandwiches last month as an evening-only, delivery-only business operating out of Nightingale’s kitchen. “It’s our little ghost kitchen,” she said. “Complete with its own branding.”

By starting a new restaurant within a restaurant, albeit one without seats and servers, McCabe-Johnston has latched on to a rising trend of using pre-existing businesses to house new takeout ventures.

With virtual happy hours and virtual meetings now the norm, it was only a matter of time before virtual restaurants took off, too. Call them ghost kitchens, cloud kitchens or dark kitchens — basically any kitchen that’s already in motion can be leveraged to power more than one food business. Especially an underused kitchen, as the coronavirus keeps would-be customers home.

In the Twin Cities, some restaurateurs are going virtual as a way of branching into different cuisines, testing future brick-and-mortar ideas, or just keeping the lights on during a tumultuous year.

“The whole point of us doing it right now is for an additional stream of revenue,” McCabe-Johnston said. “Lake City Sandwiches is going to help what could be a tough winter for Nightingale.”

New brands a lifeline

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Students say coronavirus outbreaks ‘inevitable’ in small halls with shared bathrooms

Students who became infected with coronavirus after starting university say an outbreak in their accommodation was ‘inevitable’.

It comes as an expert has warned the UK government could be forced to tell university students to remain on campuses during the Christmas break,

Authorities are worried about the risk of spreading Covid-19 into students’ local communities when they return home.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has not ruled out the possibility that university students would have to stay away from home over Christmas if major outbreaks continue on campuses.



a person standing next to a fence: NHS staff hand out test kits to Glasgow University students


© PA
NHS staff hand out test kits to Glasgow University students

Outbreaks in university accommodation in Scotland have prompted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s government to take emergency action.

Students in Scotland are quarantining in their dormitories and being told not to go to the pubs this weekend, following outbreaks affecting hundreds of students.

One student said she has now been isolating for nearly a month, having been placed in an initial 14-day quarantine on arrival from California.

The teenager and three other people in her eight-person flat in Glasgow University’s Murano Street Student Village have now tested positive for Covid-19.

The complex is the university’s largest halls of residence and can house 1,175 students



a woman talking on a cell phone: A student from the University of Glasgow administers a self-test


© AFP via Getty Images
A student from the University of Glasgow administers a self-test

The 18-year-old, who is studying international relations and sociology, said she is having to wash her clothes in the sink as the laundry is outside the flat.

The residents of the flat had already been isolating for five days when she received her positive test result on Friday morning.

She said: “With this many kids in this small an area, it was bound to happen.

“We have it, so the negative people are cooking. They will drop off food outside our doors.

“It’s

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