Combo Kitchen — a turn-key ghost kitchen operator for existing or new restaurants — has partnered with NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to launch two new ghost kitchen concepts under one joint venture: Forty-Three.
The concepts, D. Wade Burgers and UD Wings (one operated by each basketball star) will be available through Combo Kitchen.
“Combo Kitchen’s business model is different than other ghost kitchens,” said Combo Kitchen CEO Hossein Kasmai in an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News. “We only partner with well-recognized restaurant brands that are trusted and accepted quickly in any new market… We consider Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem as nationally recognized brand names.”
D. Wade Burgers will launch with a line of five burgers created in collaboration with Wade’s longtime personal chef Richard Ingraham.
“When Dwyane and his chef, Richard Ingraham, approached us with these five creative burger recipes that they had developed in Dwyane’s home kitchen, we jumped at the opportunity to help bring them to life,” Kasmai told Nation’s Restaurant News. “My personal partnership with Dwyane and UD allowed us to really roll up our sleeves and create the brands from scratch, including the website, training videos, menu guidelines, etc.”
Three of the five burgers pay homage to Wade’s hometown cities (Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles). There is also a classic option and one made with an Impossible patty.
“Burgers make me happy!” Wade said in a release. “I’m excited to partner with Chef Richard Ingraham to create these first five, tasting endless flavor profiles in search of the perfect combinations. We are looking forward to venturing into the vast potential of the ghost kitchen industry.”
UD Wings focuses on the “heat” of the former Miami Heat captain’s palette with spicy wings. The menu is customizable, with consumers having a choice of tenders, boneless wings or winglets along with 11 sauces, two rubs and four dips.
Wings can be paired with French fries (Cajun seasoned or regular) or fresh veggie sticks.
“Wings are something I really enjoy,” Haslem said in a release. “If 19 years in the NBA has taught me anything, it’s about the importance of consistency and focus. The menu is a representation of both those lessons. The hyper-focus on wings makes it easy to deliver a consistent product, while still giving customers variety so they don’t tire from the same flavors.”
When asked what kind of involvement the celebrities will have in the brands, Kasmai told NRN, “They’re committed to promoting the brands overall and to helping us spread the word to consumers when new kitchens are opening in their neighborhood.”
For now, the restaurants are only franchising as ghost kitchen concepts, but Kasmai sees a future in which there could be brick-and-mortar locations.
“We have plans to launch brick and mortar franchised restaurants in the very near future,” he said.
Combo Kitchen currently works with Frutta Bowls, Saladworks, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Wing Boss and more.