This Hotel Brand Is Transforming Its Kitchens Into ‘Digital Food Halls’ so Anyone Can Order Delivery at Home

Exterior view of Graduate Hotel Berkeley

One of the beauties of visiting a food hall is that you don't have to settle on one cuisine. Now, there's a way to visit a food hall without the crowds.

Graduate Hotels, a collection of hotels near universities across the U.S., teamed up with C3 (Creating Culinary Communities), a new food and beverage platform, to create the Graduate Food Hall. This delivery-focused, "digital kitchen" concept will feature dine-in options within Graduate Hotels' lobbies and gathering areas, as well as delivery and take-out, focusing on the unique needs of students, guests, and the surrounding community.

"College students are deeply connected to app culture and are already forgoing dining halls for meal delivery. Graduate Food Hall serves as a natural extension of the campus experience and introduces students to C3's restaurants, creating an emotional connection to these brands that they can enjoy long after they graduate. They become part of the social fabric of university life," said Sam Nazarian, founder of C3, in a statement.

Map of Graduate Hotel property locations

The so-called "digital kitchen," otherwise known as a delivery-only restaurant, has become a big draw during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the concept could possibly become a part of hotel food and beverage programs as well. C3, in particular, hosts a number of brands, including Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam's Crispy Chicken, and La Gente Tacos — all of which would operate out of Graduate Hotel kitchens while providing a food hall experience through a delivery app (or, in some cases, in person at the hotel).

"This year has presented both immense challenges and opportunities for our industry, and we have taken these moments to pause, reassess, and evolve our offerings in order to best serve guests, students, and locals," said Ben Weprin, Graduate Hotels CEO and Founder, in a statement. "With Graduate Food Hall, we're providing some exciting options and epicurean experiences, but also an incredibly streamlined and convenient approach that reflects today's market." 

Customers will be able to choose items from any number of C3's food hall brands, rather than being restricted to just one brand as they would if they were visiting a restaurant. Orders can be placed in-person at a participating Graduate Food Hall, or through any major delivery platform. Eventually, C3 plans to launch its own delivery app.  

"This setup not only supports and supplements in-room hotel dining and on-site catering, it also streamlines the ordering process and extends the hotel's reach within the local community." said Nazarian. "One of the easiest ways for hotels to connect with locals is through food and with Graduate Food Hall, we're making a selection of C3's most popular restaurant brands available at their fingertips. At the same time, our digital kitchens are driving supplemental revenue streams back to our hotel partners, making this a win-win for the hotels and the communities they serve."  

The Graduate Food Hall will launch in three hotels to begin: Graduate Berkeley (California), Graduate Richmond (Virginia), and Graduate Tempe (Arizona). The hotel chain intends to roll out the food hall to all of its properties by the end of 2021.

For more information, visit the Graduate Food Hall website.

Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.

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