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 Ghost Kitchen Brands work out of one kitchen.

  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 $58.

Ghost Kitchens kiosk order
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location.

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.

With the order done, I could pay right at the same screen.

Ghost Kitchens kiosk pay
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location.

Conveniently, there are a few ways to pay, including Apple Pay and standard credit cards.

Ghost Kitchens Walmart payment
Ghost Kitchens opened in Walmart.

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.

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.

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.

Finally, the kiosk gives a short code associated with your order.

Ghost Kitchens Walmart payment
Ghost Kitchens opened in Walmart.

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.

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.

Each item was individually packaged in similar cardboard boxes.

Ghost Kitchen food
Ghost Kitchens opened a Walmart location.

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.

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.

They had a hearty amount filling.

Ghost Kitchens bao
Ghost Kitchens just opened a Walmart location.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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Litecoin surges, then plummets after fake press release says Walmart will partner with the coin for payments

walmart cashier
  • Litecoin spiked and then sharply fell Monday morning after a fake press release said that Walmart is partnering with the coin for payments.
  • The cryptocurrency rose as much as 25% before reversing after GlobalNewsWire released a statement about the partnership.
  • Walmart told CNBC the press release is fake.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Litecoin spiked and then sharply fell Monday morning after a fake press release said that Walmart is partnering with the coin for payments.

In less than an hour on Monday morning, the coin spiked 25% to a peak of $231 and then sharply tumbled to $179.

The coin soared immediately after GlobalNewsWire published a press release saying that Walmart has announced a “major partnership with Litecoin.”

“Walmart will offer their shoppers to use Litecoin to benefit from the features of the cryptocurrency,” read the press release.

Shortly after, users on Twitter began to doubt the press release’s validity, pointing out that the official litecoin account retweeted the press release, and then deleted it. Walmart also did not publish the release on its website.

Litecoin then tumbled after a Walmart spokesperson told CNBC that the press release was fake.

The cryptocurrency traded around $180 as of 10:35 am ET Monday.

Read more: 5 altcoins to buy as institutions adopt crypto, according to a financial advisor who works with retired millionaires and predicts bitcoin will surge to $90,000

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Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger will start selling at-home rapid COVID-19 tests at up to a 35% discount starting this week

walmart store
  • Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger will offer at-home COVID-19 tests at sharply reduced prices beginning this week.
  • It’s part of the Biden administration’s action plan to combat the coronavirus.
  • The plan also includes requiring large employers to mandate vaccines for employees.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The three largest retailers in the US will soon start offering at-home COVID-19 rapid tests at a sharply reduced price.

The Biden administration on Thursday announced an action plan to help combat the coronavirus as new cases surge and health officials urge more Americans to get fully vaccinated. The plan includes a range of new measures, including requiring employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or require weekly testing for their workers, a rule that will impact more than 80 million employees nationwide.

Biden’s plan also includes cooperating with Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger to make COVID tests more widely available and easier to obtain. Those retailers will sell at-home rapid tests at-cost for the next three months, meaning they’ll cost up to 35% less both in stores and online.

These price reductions will go into effect by the end of this week, the administration said.

As part of the administration’s effort to improve access to COVID tests, Medicaid is required to make at-home COVID tests free for beneficiaries, the administration said, adding that “states should ensure that any tools they use to manage at-home testing do not establish arbitrary barriers for people seeking care.”

In addition, 25 million rapid tests will be sent to hundreds of food banks and 1,400 community health centers across the US.

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Walmart is teaming up with Instacart to take another shot at delivering groceries in New York City

Walmart worker
Walmart is teaming up with Instacart.

  • Walmart is teaming up with Instacart to deliver groceries to parts of New York City.
  • Customers in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx will be able to sign up for this service.
  • It pits Walmart against Amazon, which already offers speedy grocery delivery services in New York.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walmart said Tuesday it is partnering with Instacart to deliver groceries to parts of New York City, The Wall Street Journal first reported.

Customers in areas of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx will be able to have groceries collected by Instacart drivers from stores outside the city and delivered to their homes. Instacart is a same-day delivery service that pairs users with gig workers who shop for and deliver their orders.

Walmart previously offered grocery delivery in New York through its Jet.com service, which was shut down in 2020. Aside from this, the retail giant has made few moves into the New York City market and does not currently have stores there.

The move will allow Walmart to better compete with Amazon, which offers its Amazon Fresh delivery services for grocery in New York and has been ramping up speedy delivery options in urban areas.

Read more: Walmart unleashes a crucial new weapon to grab advertising budget from Amazon, but it’s still lagging behind

“It’s about reaching more customers,” a Walmart spokesperson told The Journal, who said the retailer is using Instacart’s services in areas where it lacks stores.

Walmart didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

This isn’t the first time Walmart has teamed up with Instacart. The two companies partnered in 2019 to offer grocery delivery services to 200 Walmart stores across Canada. In 2020, it extended these same-day delivery options to parts of the US, including California and Oklahoma.

At the time, Moody’s analyst Charlie O’Shea described the partnership as Walmart’s latest “salvo in its delivery arms race with Amazon.”

“Walmart will continue to leverage its 5,300-plus physical locations in the US, which is a compelling competitive advantage as it provides consumers with a same-day pick-up option, with same-day delivery augmenting this capability, creating a very powerful one-two punch,” he said, Insider’s Áine Cain reported in 2020.

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Walmart is set to hire 20,000 permanent supply chain workers to ramp up for the holiday season

walmart distribution center
  • Walmart is slated to hire 20,000 new workers across its supply chain.
  • The company has tied the hiring spree to the 2021 holiday season.
  • Walmart has also made an ongoing effort to expand its supply chain and e-commerce capabilities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walmart is hiring 20,000 new workers to bolster its supply chain going into the 2021 holiday season. Those thousands of new hires will fill full-time and part-time roles and are meant to be permanent jobs, not only seasonal gigs.

In a statement from Walmart US Executive Vice President of Supply Chain Operations Joe Metzger and Senior Vice President for Supply Chain and People Karisa Sprague, the executives announced the hiring push. The retail giant is looking to fill positions in a variety of supply chain roles, including “order fillers, freight handlers, lift drivers, technicians and management positions.”

These new roles will be spread “across more than 250 Walmart and Sam’s Club distribution centers (DCs), fulfillment centers (FCs) and transportation offices.” Walmart estimated that its average hourly wage for supply chain workers is $20.37.

“We know that offering competitive pay is essential in order to build a network for the future,” Metzger and Sprague wrote.

On September 8 and September 9, Walmart will also host “special hiring events” for prospective candidates. The company anticipates that the new hires will assist with its holiday 2021 season, as well as its long-term goal of building out stronger e-commerce fulfillment capabilities.

“There’s opportunity here to learn from the ground up and add to the culture by putting your own special twist on being a part of a team,” Angie Baecke, the general management of a fulfillment center in Plainfield, Indiana, said in a statement sent to Insider.

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2 Black men accused Walmart of racial discrimination, saying they were handcuffed and accused of stealing when they tried to return a TV

Walmart
Walmart is facing a racial-discrimination lawsuit.

  • Two Black men are suing Walmart, accusing it of racial discrimination.
  • The men say Walmart staff falsely accused them of stealing when they tried to return a TV.
  • One broke down in tears after being handcuffed by police, the suit said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two Black men in their 50s are suing Walmart, alleging that the retailer falsely accused them of stealing when they tried to return a TV.

The plaintiffs Dennis Stewart, a former police officer, and Terence Richardson, a pastor, were handcuffed by the police at a Walmart in the Houston suburb of Conroe, Texas, after trying to return a $300 TV last September, the lawsuit said. Stewart bought the TV earlier in the day but said it wasn’t working properly, and so wanted to return it, the lawsuit said.

The two men said that when they went to return the TV, a white employee at the customer-service counter accused them of stealing it and refused to acknowledge their receipt as proof of purchase.

They said the associate called the police. The lawsuit said the police arrived, handcuffed them, and took them to the loss-prevention office, where Stewart was said to have broken down in tears.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Courthouse News was first to report it.

Insider contacted Walmart for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Read more: I’m a Black woman in tech who was spared from daily microaggressions thanks to remote work. Here’s how work-from-home can make your office less racist.

The police later released Stewart and Richardson, but the lawsuit said the store manager asked the pair to sign a paper confirming they would be arrested if they returned to the store.

The men say a Walmart associate shouted at them: “Take this f—ing receipt, take that f—ing TV, get the f— out of this store, and never f—ing come back.”

The suit said the two men were “regularly tormented and awakened from their sleep with nightmares about what they experienced at the Walmart.”

“Such treatment hurts so deeply it is impossible to describe,” it said. “It is like a cancer that eats at them every moment of the day – causing them to try to avoid people they think might be inclined to act the same way toward them.”

Stewart and Richardson are accusing Walmart of racial discrimination, false arrest and imprisonment, and breach of contract.

The suit said they were “dehumanized” and made to look like criminals when they were just following Walmart’s returns policy.

This isn’t the first time Walmart has faced a racial-discrimination lawsuit. In 2018, a Black customer sued the company, alleging that it was intentionally locking up inexpensive beauty products made for Black people. Retailers often put higher-priced products in glass cases to protect them from theft.

At the time, Walmart told Insider it did “not tolerate discrimination of any kind.” It later said it would stop putting these products behind glass cases.

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Wendy’s just opened its first restaurant in a Walmart and it sells exclusive items like a strawberry Frosty and Jalapeno Cheddar Nuggets

Wendy's hamburger stand in Walmart
Wendy’s opened a burger stand in an Ohio Walmart.

  • Wendy’s just opened its first Walmart location in Ohio.
  • The hamburger stand has exclusive nugget and frosty sundae flavors.
  • Walmart has partnered with Domino’s and Taco Bell to open in-store locations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Wendy’s just opened a restaurant inside a Walmart in Heath, Ohio with some variations on the typical menu.

The Wendy’s Hamburger Stand inside the Walmart is much smaller than a regular restaurant, and has “a look and feel that’s whimsical, reflecting our brand identity in a unique and modern way,” a Wendy’s spokesperson told Insider.

Wendy’s says the location will have some classic menu items, plus some exclusive items only available there. Nuggets will be available in Buttermilk Ranch and Jalapeno Cheddar flavors, and the store will sell a new strawberry frosty flavor. The stand will also sell frosty sundaes in Chocolate Lover and Strawberry Celebration flavors.

“There are big opportunities for Wendy’s to reach consumers where they live, work, and play, and that includes non-traditional venues where we have captive market audiences like airports, universities, and retail environments, like Walmart. We know that Wendy’s fans are looking for great food on the go, at a reasonable price, to feed themselves and their families,” the Wendy’s spokesperson told Insider.

Read more: How a tiny food-tech startup convinced industry heavyweights like Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell to rely on it to fight a labor shortage

Walmart leases space, often near the front of its stores, to other businesses, including restaurants. The big-box chain partners with national chains and local businesses, depending on the needs of the community, a spokesperson previously told Insider.

“We’re looking to both restaurants and services that are really relevant to our customers – be it local businesses, a service that has localized relevance, or a larger chain that is really delivering on how customers are looking to shop and get their meals and create an eco-system for our customers,” a Walmart spokesperson told Insider.

While hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants inside Walmart stores closed over the last several years, Walmart has slowly added Domino’s and Taco Bell locations. There are also plans for an even smaller Wendy’s Snack Shop in another Walmart in Ohio.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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Goldman Sachs will require US staff to take weekly COVID-19 tests even if they are fully vaccinated, a report says

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon wears a pale blue shirt and red tie while speaking on stage.
David Solomon is the CEO of Goldman Sachs.

  • Goldman Sachs will ask its fully vaccinated staff to take weekly COVID-19 tests, the NYT reported.
  • The bank will require staff returning to US offices to be fully vaccinated by September 7, per the report.
  • It will also require clients visiting its offices to be fully vaccinated, The Times reported.

Goldman Sachs will require staff in its US offices to take weekly COVID-19 tests even if they are fully vaccinated, the New York Times reported.

The banking giant told staff in a memo Tuesday that employees who were not fully vaccinated by September 7 must work from home, per The Times.

The memo said that employees should wear masks at all times at the company’s San Francisco and Washington offices unless they are eating or drinking, per The Times.

The bank also said in the memo that it would require anyone entering its US offices to be fully vaccinated, including clients, per The Times.

Read more: How to sell the vaccine to the unvaccinated, according to 6 advertising executives who are pros at persuasion

Goldman’s new rules come amid a surge in cases of the Delta variant across the country. In New York City, where Goldman has its head office, 94% of tested cases in the past four weeks were caused by the highly contagious strain, according to local government data.

Vaccines work well against the Delta variant, but some vaccinated people are still catching COVID-19. In most cases, these people have reported mild symptoms, or none at all.

Companies have grappled with whether to mandate vaccinations for their employees in recent months. Earlier in August, Citigroup announced in a LinkedIn post that it would require its staff returning to its New York City office to get vaccinated.

In July, Walmart said that its corporate workers must be jabbed by early October, but exempted frontline workers from the mandate, per the Associated Press.

The Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on August 23 may encourage more companies to follow Goldman’s example. The same day, President Joe Biden urged companies to mandate vaccines.

“If you’re a business leader, a non-profit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that – require it,” he said in a press briefing.

Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Walmart is launching GoLocal, a new service that will offer local delivery for national brands and small business operators

walmart go local
  • Walmart is launching a new delivery service called Walmart Go Local.
  • The service will cater to local outfits and national businesses alike.
  • “Our strengths lie in our local footprint and our digital connections,” US CEO John Furner said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walmart is offering a new platform that allows businesses to arrange local deliveries with the retail giant. The announcement came as the company continues to attempt to leverage its logistical capabilities and expand into e-commerce-related revenue streams.

The new commercialized delivery platform will be called Walmart GoLocal.

Walmart first launched its delivery and express delivery services in 2018, and the offering is now available for 160,000 products at over 3,000. The retailer estimates that its delivery program covers nearly 70% of the US population. According to Walmart executives, Walmart GoLocal is a move that can help local businesses capitalize on those delivery capabilities.

Executives also tied the new service to other commercial offerings from the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company, including its ad business Walmart Connect and its rival to Amazon’s e-commerce enterprise, Walmart Fulfillment Services.

Walmart also recently announced that it would partner with Adobe to release technology products for small businesses.

Speaking during a press call on Monday, Walmart US CEO John Furner and SVP of last mile Tom Ward said that the new service, which debuts Tuesday, would be a “white-label” provider, meaning that the client’s branding will take precedence, as well as an alternative revenue stream and profit pool for Walmart.

Ward also said that the platform will be available in suburban and rural areas where “other delivery providers” struggle. “Through Walmart GoLocal, any merchant from national retailers to small town shops can use Walmart’s growing delivery platform to power their local delivery efforts,” Ward said. “The service is white-label, in that our clients brands are front and center.”

Ward explained how the service would work, noting that Walmart will get a “ping” whenever a customer places an order with a business using Walmart GoLocal. The service will dispatch a driver to deliver the item, and Walmart will “capture any delivery experience feedback.”

Walmart GoLocal has been contracted with several retail clients, although Ward and Furner did not expand on which businesses have signed on so far.

“Our strengths lie in our local footprint and our digital connections,” Furner said.

This business is an important part of the company’s overall strategy, which includes diversifying its revenue streams and profit pools with initiatives like Walmart Connect and Walmart Fulfillment Services. Its launch comes weeks after the retailer announced plans to begin offering technologies and capabilities to help other businesses navigate their own digital transformation.

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Walmart’s advertising business doubled as the retailer continues its mission to morph into an ad giant

walmart store sign

Walmart reported major growth in its advertising business as the company seeks to compete with rivals like Amazon and other retailers like Target and Walgreens.

CEO Doug McMillon and CFO Brett Biggs said that retailer’s ad business “nearly doubled” in the US during the company’s Tuesday earnings call. They added that the number of advertisers running campaigns are up 175% over last year, while advertising-driven sales enjoyed a 95% spike.

The company has also been expanding its digital advertising capabilities lately, in a bid to compete with Amazon and a growing number of retailers turned ad platforms like Target, Instacart, Walgreens, and Gopuff. Earlier this year, the retailer overhauled its ad business and dubbed it Walmart Connect. Walmart Connect is largely based on the idea that advertisers will pay a retailer for data on whether or not consumers were influenced to purchase an item after seeing an ad.

“The phrase ‘serving customers’ has traditionally meant one thing at Walmart, but today it includes serving marketplace sellers, our advertising partners, and those that want to use our fulfillment services or proprietary software,” McMillon told analysts.

Biggs said that Walmart Connect is a “rapidly expanding” and “higher margin” business that “gives us flexibility to invest aggressively for the future.” He added that the company expects the rapid growth to continue.

Read more: JOIN US ON SEPTEMBER 16: The future of Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart advertising

The company’s exact sales numbers are still too small to include in its earnings. Advertising made up less than 1% of Walmart’s annual net sales last year, according to its 2020 annual report. But Biggs said that the numbers bolstered Walmart’s overall business. He said that Walmart US saw its gross profit rate improve thanks in part to “strong advertising revenue.”

And Walmart’s push into advertising isn’t limited to the US.

“We’re seeing a strong response to the launch of Walmart Connect in Mexico, with the number of advertisers and campaigns growing rapidly,” Biggs said.

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