‘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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Tim Griffin, The Kitchen’s Director and Chief Curator, Steps Down

A search for Griffin’s successor is being conducted by Isaacson Miller.

Tim Griffin, The Kitchen's Director and Chief Curator, Steps Down

The Kitchen has announced that its director and chief curator, Tim Griffin, will be stepping down from the position at the end of this year.

During his tenure, Griffin organized with The Kitchen team significant projects by artists including Chantal Akerman, ANOHNI, Charles Atlas, Gretchen Bender, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Ralph Lemon, Aki Sasamoto, and Tyshawn Sorey, among many others, in addition to thematic exhibitions such as “From Minimalism into Algorithm.” The organization also developed new initiatives and programs including “The Kitchen L.A.B.,” an interdisciplinary discussion series which keyed thematic seasons since 2012; and the electronic music series “Synth Nights.” Following the spread of COVID-19, the organization also launched The Kitchen Broadcast and revised its residencies to operate with a TV studio model.

During the past two years, Griffin has focused on fundraising in anticipation of The Kitchen’s 50th anniversary in 2021 and the anticipated renovation of its building on 19th Street in Chelsea. The organization has raised approximately $11 million heading into a special benefit exhibition, “Ice and Fire,” which is curated by Kitchen board members Wade Guyton and Jacqueline Humphries and opens on October 1.

Griffin will continue as an advisor to ensure a smooth transition and on 50th anniversary initiatives, while taking a position as Visiting Associate Professor in the departments of Art History and English at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. His wife, Johanna Burton, is director of the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The Kitchen Chair of the Board Greg Feldman says: “All of us at The Kitchen express our gratitude to Tim for his remarkable leadership during the past decade as both a visionary curator and fundraiser, and at a key point in The Kitchen’s history.”

“I can’t imagine a more inspiring or

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Alison Victoria Reveals the ‘Future of Kitchens’: Will It Catch On?

Alison Victoria of “Windy City Rehab” is in some serious trouble. After getting sucked into legal scandals involving her former partner, Donovan Eckhardt, she’s parted ways with him and is trying to move on.

But can she? In the episode “Going Big on Berenice,” Victoria has begun working on a huge house on Berenice Street in Chicago, but soon runs into problems. Since Eckhardt was involved in this deal early on, and had allegedly bungled paperwork along the way, a stop-work order was placed on the building. This causes an expensive nine-month delay, and eventually Victoria realizes that she may not turn a profit on this house.

To make up for lost time, she decides to add features that are so amazing, the house could fetch a high price—all without making her spend a ton more money. Read on to find out the special upgrades Victoria adds that make this house stand out, and might work well in your own home, too.

Curb appeal matters a lot

Before: The old exterior was very plain.


When Victoria starts work on this house, she’s disappointed with the exterior. With faux stone on the façade and a brown door, it looks dated and dull.

“Curb appeal in this neighborhood is just like any other neighborhood: very important,” she explains, and makes plans to completely reimagine the exterior.

After: With new paint and wood accents, this home looks modern and inviting.


She gives the house a modern look by painting the exterior black and white. For some character, she adds cedar shingles as an architectural accent. This mix of colors and materials adds dimension to the house—it’s a far cry from the boring stone exterior that was there before.


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Why Virtual Kitchens Are Disrupting The Food And Beverage Industry

CEO and Founder of the Profitable Restaurant Owner Academy, the ultimate resource in starting a profitable restaurant.

Restaurants are notorious for their low-margin business model. After all is said and done, their profitability ranges from 5% to 10%, a number I’ve gathered from a variety of National Restaurant Association articles and surveys. The reason for its low margins is because of the prime cost — food cost and labor — which typically accounts for more than 55% to 65% of the revenue.

As technology rapidly advanced, so did innovation within the food and beverage sector. Third-party apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash have made ordering out easy with just a click of a button — no need to step foot in the restaurant. It is with the advancement of this technology that has allowed new businesses like virtual kitchens, also known as cloud kitchens, ghost kitchens or dark kitchens, to thrive.

The virtual kitchen concept has revolutionized the food and beverage world by taking out one of the major components for any restaurants: the dine-in area. A virtual kitchen is basically a commercial kitchen optimized for food delivery. What that means is that you can have your restaurant ready for takeout orders, without ever needing a dine-in space, which means less investment, lower rent and less labor cost.

After the past five years developing my very own restaurant chain and recently having it acquired, I can see why the majority of my consultation clients are all flocking to this model. Below are four main advantages of why every restauranteur should optimize for this model.

1. Lower Operational Costs

The most direct advantage of operating a virtual kitchen versus a conventional restaurant is the rental cost. Since virtual kitchens do not serve walk-in traffic, they require substantially less

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Greek revival has spiral staircase, two kitchens



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This Greek revival home is a replica of the antebellum D’Evereux Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The mansion features a spiral staircase, two kitchens, and custom cypress flooring throughout the 7,450 square foot home.

The home, located at 123 Shannon Road in Lafayette, has 6 bedrooms, 4 and a half bathrooms, is on the market for $2.95 million. 

Six fluted Doric columns stretch out across the front porch with a custom designed wrought iron balcony. The timeless design on the front patio is of old cypress, with brick floors from old Chicago bricks finished with beeswax. 

The home is centered on two lots, for a total of one and a half acres.

Inside, the two story foyer has a custom-made ”free standing spiral staircase” with oak handrails and a Labarden custom-made chandelier. (Photo: Parish Pix)

Inside, the two story foyer has a custom-made ”free standing spiral staircase” with oak handrails and a Labarden custom-made chandelier.

The expansive living room has 14-foot, vaulted ceilings with cypress beams, antique cypress wood flooring, and four sets of Arched French doors that open onto the rear gallery. 

Looking for a new home?: Start your search here

The study has two walls with built in bookcases, walnut panels and molding, brick floors and an antique chandelier.

The main kitchen has been renovated and designed by Todd Zimmerman. It features custom cabinets, a large island, granite, large walk in pantry, and built-in China cabinets. Attached is a breakfast area.

The catering kitchen has a complete gas stove, oven, refrigerator, large copper hood, pot rack, wine cabinets, brick floors and large island with additional stove and grill.

The catering kitchen has a complete gas stove, oven, refrigerator, large copper hood, pot rack, wine cabinets, brick floors and large

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