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Toronto-based Longo's announced that its Liberty Village store now is hosting a Kitchen Hub ghost kitchen - the first to open inside a grocery store in the city, and the beginning of what the two companies call "a longer term partnership."

According to the announcement, Kitchen Hub "has four new kitchens at Longo's Liberty Village. There is a full menu of items from Toronto's beloved Thai restaurant PAI, Montreal's buzz-worthy Mandy's Gourmet Salads, rapidly-growing fried chicken and burger spot Cabano's Comfort Food and authentic Mexican fare from Elia Herrera of Colibri with Tecolote. Customers can mix and match items from all four restaurants as well as add grab-and-go offerings from The Cheesecake Factory Bakery, and Elle Dee Bakery.

"Longo's ready-to-eat items like housemade pizza, bento sushi boxes, salads, roasted chickens and all-day breakfast will also be available. All items can be ordered through Kitchen Hub's on-site kiosks as well as from or third-party delivery apps for contactless ordering, pick-up, dine-in or delivery."

"We understand the changing demands and behaviors of our Guests and take pride in always evolving to deliver the best shopping experience possible" said Anthony Longo, president-CEO of Longo's. "Kitchen Hub's collection of curated offerings from top-tier brands will ensure that we continue to elevate, innovate, and appeal to our Guests. We are excited to deliver this new offering to our Liberty Village community."

This is Kitchen Hub's fourth location.

KC's View:

I am ever-so-slightly conflicted about this.

Over the years, I've questioned the wisdom of supermarket chains dedicating any space or energy promoting brands that essentially compete with them for share of stomach.  But I think I must be evolving, because this sounds like a really good idea.

Some of it is about inevitability.  The fact is, the ghost kitchen business makes a lot of sense, and if retailers can get a piece of the action, becoming part of the solution, then it probably makes sense.  (Kroger is doing this, too.)

I also like the idea that Kitchen Hub positions itself as a "virtual food hall."  I think that this is smart branding - "food hall" is a term of art that I think has a lot of appeal, that speaks to people in an aspirational way.  And so if Longo's can connect itself to that positioning, it strikes me as being both strategically and tactically advantageous.

Go figure.  I'm evolving.