They save the dark days of modern-day kitchens by turning them into dark kitchens.  That’s right, they let you use your kitchen to make their stuff and you get the sales.

Credit: Wow Bao

“Wow Bao offers in-house marketing, supply chain coordination, and 3rd party vendor support to get your business up and running in as little as 5 weeks with potential to earn six figures in additional revenue.”, says the Wow Bao website.

Wow Bao was doing the ghost kitchen thing almost three years before the pandemic forced that whole business model into overdrive.  Their strategy has worked so well that between 2020 and 2021, they partnered with more than 300-350 local restaurants.  They now have over 600 in 41 states.

It works so well because it’s so easy.  In fact, it’s one of those things that seems so “duh” in its nature that you wonder why it took so long for someone to think of it.

So, what does a partnership require? Well, let’s start with the basics.

First and foremost, you need a kitchen. A licensed professional, commercial kitchen. You can’t open one in your home.  You have to have existing equipment and the ability to accept a couple more, but you don’t need a hood. That’s a big plus.  However, if you already have a rice cooker, steamer, and flattop, you won’t need any extra equipment.  No steamer?  Wow Bao will sell you a $60 kettle that goes over a burner.  I reached out in an email to ask what the initial fee would be and got the response that it is still $495. A great price for such a lucrative venture.

Rice cooker and stovetop steamer. Credit: Wow Bao

Moving on….

You need an existing contract with a broadline distributor, like US Foods or Sysco.  You need some experience dealing with third-party delivery services. And finally, someone within your senior staff needs to have at least two years of restaurant experience.

If you’re able to check all of these boxes, fill out an Operator Inquiry form, found on Wow Bao’s website. They will handle everything from there, on, provided you are approved.

Wow Bao will send you all necessary material, including menu descriptions, video learning, manuals, and marketing materials.  They will send a three-piece equipment package. They will set you up with your choice of delivery service. And finally, they will provide the training for your staff and a virtual walkthrough before launch to make sure you’re ready. 

“We ship our signature Bao, pan-seared potstickers, delectable dumplings, and flavorful rice bowls to be freshly prepared by your trained restaurant team.”, states the website.

You will then have a revenue stream based on an existing product and customer base.  Throughout, you will have access to digital ads, local PR support, and in-app promotions provided by Wow Bao to help. It’s all designed to help struggling restaurants make some much-needed extra revenue.  In turn, they get brand recognition. A win-win. These days, we need more ideas like that.