Conshohocken, Pa., restaurant Stella Blu will close its doors this month, and the team behind the long-time eatery are going “ghost.”
Sean Weinberg of Alba in Malvern, Pa., and Biga in Bryn Mawr, Pa., will open a restaurant called Imbibe Food & Drink in its place, according to a spokeswoman for Stella Blu.
In the meantime, the business partners this year will relaunch Stella Blu as a virtual restaurant, also known as “ghost kitchens,” which are delivery-only concepts.
These types of concepts are opening in cities like New York and Chicago. Examples include Ando by Chef David Chang and Seaside by Chicago’s Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc.
A Philadelphia bar and restaurant owner has also launched a virtual kitchen concept, with additional concepts in the works.
Virtual kitchen concepts are attractive to entrepreneurs entering the restaurant industry for the first time because these concepts don’t include the overhead costs of brick and mortars.
E-commerce is also helping to move the needle toward the use of on-demand delivery services; the region has seen a proliferation of related services in the past few years like Caviar and Grubhub, and goPuff, Postmates and Instacart.
“So many of our regular customers would come in two or three times a week and order the same dish over and over,” co-owner Golden said. “We want to be able to continue to offer these dishes, and look forward to launching a virtual reincarnation of Stella Blu.”