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Brookfield, Simon Invest In Sam Nazarian’s Food Court Ghost Kitchens Concept

SBE founder Sam Nazarian

With coronavirus pandemic conditions easing in the U.S. but the future of shopping malls still uncertain, mall owners are constantly on the lookout for any way to diversify.

Two of the largest mall owners in the U.S., Brookfield Asset Management and Simon Property Group, have invested in Sam Nazarian's ghost kitchens concept, The Wall Street Journal reports. The most recent funding round, a Series B that totaled $80M, was led by Brookfield and SoftBank Group-backed REEF Technology, a tech firm dedicated to repurposing underused urban and retail spaces into modern and mixed uses. Simon had invested in the company's initial fundraising round. 

Creating Culinary Communities, a subsidiary of Nazarian's international hotel, restaurant and nightclub company SBE, will operate one full-service restaurant within a food court in its new model while the kitchen produces food for up to 10 online-only brands, the WSJ reports.

Also known as C3, the company already operated 250 ghost kitchens around the U.S. as of February. Its first to include the new model with a dine-in option will be a 40K SF food hall opening in September within Brookfield's Manhattan West megadevelopment in New York City.

As indoor dining has returned in most of the U.S., the extent to which delivery will continue to be prevalent in the restaurant industry remains to be seen, but Nazarian said he believes that adding indoor dining will be key to sustaining long-term success for ghost kitchens.

“Delivery will eventually stabilize and level off, however it will never return to pre-pandemic lows,” Nazarian told Bisnow in an email in February. “At the end of the day, consumers feel most connected to brands they can see, touch, and connect with in person, and these are the brands that will survive on and off the delivery apps when we reach 'the new normal.'”

CORRECTION, JULY 8, 10:30 A.M. ET: A previous version of this article misstated the timing of Simon Property Group's investment in C3 fundraising. This article has been updated.