I tried Ghost Kitchens’ first US restaurant inside a Walmart, and I think it’s the perfect model for a fast-food world wracked by the labor shortage

Ghost Kitchen Brands
Restaurants inside work out of one kitchen. Ghost Kitchen Brands
  • Ghost Kitchens opened a restaurant inside a Walmart in Rochester, New York.
  • I tested it out, ordering food from the kiosks.
  • Ghost Kitchens don’t need as many workers as a standard fast-food restaurant.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ghost Kitchens just opened its first Walmart location in the US in Rochester, New York, so I went to test it out.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen
The first US Ghost Kitchen in a Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The “revolutionary food court,” as the sign calls it, was located right by Walmart’s entrance, behind the stacks of carts.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen interior
The first US Ghost Kitchen in a Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Signs around the entrance advertised some of the brands sold inside, including Cinnabon and Yogen Fruz.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen signs
The first US Ghost Kitchen in a Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Inside, the restaurant was an open space with white walls, and not much else.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen signs
The first US Ghost Kitchen in a Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
A TV on the wall cycles through ads for the brands served by Ghost Kitchens.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen tv interior
The first US Ghost Kitchen in a Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
At the front of the restaurant, there’s a counter where workers come out to hand out orders. Customers can also choose to pay there.
Ghost Kitchens cash register
Ghost Kitchens just opened its first location inside a US Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The display case at the counter has Cinnabons, cookies, cheesecake, and other desserts.
Ghost Kitchens display case
Ghost Kitchens just opened its first location inside a US Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
A Costa coffee station sits right behind the counter, with paper cups, carafes of coffee, and flavored syrups.
Ghost Kitchens behind the counter
Ghost Kitchens just opened its first location inside a US Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I could also just barely see back into the kitchen, where the General Manager told me there were five workers at the time I was there, about 7 p.m. on a Tuesday.
Ghost Kitchens behind the counter
Ghost Kitchens just opened its first location inside a US Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
After scoping out the entire restaurant, it was finally time to order. I went to use one of the touch screen kiosks, which revert to ads when not in use.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen order screen
The first Ghost Kitchen inside a US Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The screen showed all the brands you could order from, including Kraft, Taco Tea, Quizno’s and about 20 others.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen order screen
The first Ghost Kitchen inside a US Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
You can select any restaurant from the screen to see its expanded menu.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen order screen
The first Ghost Kitchen inside a US Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I started by checking out the menu for Wings of New York, because my home of Western New York is the home of Buffalo wings and they’re a staple in the region.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen order screen
The first Ghost Kitchen inside a US Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Most menu items take you to another screen for customizations, like sauces or sides. I was pleased to see Bleu Cheese as an option here, a must for wings.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen order screen
The first Ghost Kitchen inside a US Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
There was a huge variety of food across the menu, so I tried to sample a little bit of a lot of different menus to get a good sense of the Ghost Kitchens concept as a whole.
Ghost Kitchens kiosk menu
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Some parts of the menu were straightforward adaptations of restaurants like Cinnabon, while I’ve never seen a Kraft restaurant before.
In the end I ordered wings, bao, pierogies, Kraft Mac and Cheese bites, and a Cinnabon for $US58 ($AU80).
Ghost Kitchens kiosk order
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
As I went to checkout and pay, the kiosk tried to upsell me on other menu items. The technology didn’t seem as sophisticated as, say, a McDonald’s menu board at predicting what else I’d order, but I could definitely see that a possibility in the future.
Ghost Kitchens kiosk order
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
With the order done, I could pay right at the same screen.
Ghost Kitchens kiosk pay
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Conveniently, there are a few ways to pay, including Apple Pay and standard credit cards.
Ghost Kitchens Walmart payment
Ghost Kitchens opened in Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I chose to pay with a credit card, and the large screen pointed me to the small pin pad next to it.
Ghost Kitchens Walmart payment
Ghost Kitchens opened in Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The process worked smoothly, with no need for workers to intervene or fix and mishaps that I sometimes see happening in fast food restaurants with kiosks like this.
Ghost Kitchens Walmart payment
Ghost Kitchens opened in Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Then, you have the option to add in your phone number to get a receipt by text. I wanted my receipt so I did it, but I didn’t love the idea of having my personal number displayed in huge text that could be read across the room by anyone.
Ghost Kitchens Walmart payment
Ghost Kitchens opened in Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Finally, the kiosk gives a short code associated with your order.
Ghost Kitchens Walmart payment
Ghost Kitchens opened in Walmart. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I also got a text when my food was ready. My order took longer than a typical fast-food wait, but I can see how it would be convenient if you were shopping in Walmart and picking up the order on your way out.
Ghost Kitchen food
Ghost Kitchens opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I got my order packed in a bag and I took it home, excited to try it.
Ghost Kitchen food
Ghost Kitchens opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Each item was individually packaged in similar cardboard boxes.
Ghost Kitchen food
Ghost Kitchens opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Upon opening the boxes, I was impressed by how everything smelled and looked.
Ghost Kitchens bao chicken wings pierogi
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The bao, which came in two flavors, were one of the highlights, and I’d get them again.
Ghost Kitchens bao
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
They had a hearty amount filling.
Ghost Kitchens bao
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I was most surprised by the wings, which were delicious and not too saucy with a dry rub.
Ghost Kitchens wings
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
They even came with a small tinfoil wrapper of celery, which I thought was a nice touch.
Ghost Kitchens chicken wings
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The Mac-And-Cheese Bites were good, but I wish I’d gotten more of them and less of the topping.
Ghost Kitchen food
Ghost Kitchens opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The “Canadian style” pierogies were definitely an odd combination, with poutine-inspired toppings, but oddly enough they worked.
Ghost Kitchen food
Ghost Kitchens opened a Walmart location. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Overall, the food was better than I expected, but prices were definitely high for the fast-food world. I can imagine convenience being a deciding factor in customers stopping at this location if they’re already in Walmart or need to meet the tastes of several different people.
Ghost Kitchens receipt
My Ghost Kitchens receipt. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
This is definitely a fortuitous time for Ghost Kitchens to be expanding as fast-food chains struggle to hire enough workers to stay open. Ghost Kitchens still require workers to prepare the food, but less labor goes towards interacting with customers, and a few employees can make the equivalent of several restaurants’ worth of food.
Walmart Ghost Kitchen order screen
The first Ghost Kitchen inside a US Walmart just opened. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
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