C3 (Creating Culinary Communities), a revolutionary food and beverage platform founded by Sam Nazarian, and Graduate Hotels, a collection of handcrafted hotels in dynamic university markets founded by Ben Weprin, announced the launch of Graduate Food Hall. A new delivery-focused, hybrid digital kitchen concept, Graduate Food Hall powered by C3 will debut within Graduate properties in the first quarter of 2021, with plans to roll out to a majority of Graduate locations across the country by end of year. 

Through this joint venture with Graduate Hotels, C3 will assume daily operations of all on premise food service across the Graduate properties. An industry first, this digital food hall concept effectively injects C3’s popular restaurant brands and shared kitchen model into the hotel space. Graduate’s hotel kitchens will be converted into multi-brand digital kitchens in which up to six of C3’s brands, including award-winning concepts such as Umami Burger, Krispy Rice and Sam’s Crispy Chicken can operate at once. Graduate Food Hall will feature dine-in options within Graduate Hotels’ lobbies and gathering areas, as well as delivery and take-out, all catered to the unique needs of students, guests and the surrounding community. Graduate Hotels will continue to operate its own bar outlets. 

“The partnership between C3 and Graduate will set the precedent for the future of hotel dining,” says Sam Nazarian, founder of C3. “This setup not only supports and supplements in-room hotel dining and on-site catering, it also streamlines the ordering process and extends the hotel’s reach within the local community.” Nazarian explains: “One of the easiest ways for hotels to connect with locals is through food and with Graduate Food Hall, we’re making a selection of C3’s most popular restaurant brands available at their fingertips. At the same time, our digital kitchens are driving supplemental revenue streams back to our hotel partners, making this a win-win for the hotels and the communities they serve.” 

“We’re thrilled to partner with our friends at C3 and bring this innovative new dining experience to some of our Graduate communities across the country,” says Weprin, Graduate Hotels CEO and founder. “This year has presented both immense challenges and opportunities for our industry, and we have taken these moments to pause, reassess and evolve our offerings in order to best serve guests, students and locals. With Graduate Food Hall, we’re providing some exciting options and epicurean experiences, but also an incredibly streamlined and convenient approach that reflects today’s market.”

C3’s digital kitchen model will allow Graduate Hotels to offer an array of cuisines in one place, with options ranging from Krispy Rice’s playful and colorful approach to Japanese cuisine; Umami Burger’s award-winning burger concept centered around the rich, savory essence of umami; and as well as the rich pipeline of brands currently in development that include, Mediterranean, Thai, Wings and more. Instead of being restricted to one menu or cuisine type, diners simply choose their preferred items from any of C3’s food hall concepts in one single order. Orders can be enjoyed in-person at Graduate Food Hall, on-the-go or through delivery via any major delivery platform. In the next phase, orders can also be placed via C3’s own soon-to-launch delivery app. 

Graduate Food Hall is anticipated to debut in Graduate Berkeley (CA), Graduate Richmond (VA) and Graduate Tempe (AZ), with additional locations to come.  

“The university market was the prime place for C3 to expand into the hospitality space, and Graduate Hotels provided direct-to-consumer relationships with 3.5 million students at iconic institutions around the country,” says Nazarian.  “College students are deeply connected to app culture and are already forgoing dining halls for meal delivery. Graduate Food Hall serves as a natural extension of the campus experience and introduces students to C3’s restaurants, creating an emotional connection to these brands that they can enjoy long after they graduate. They become part of the social fabric of university life.”

Created for travelers who seek memory-making journeys, Graduate Hotels is a hand-crafted collection of hotels that reside in dynamic university-anchored communities across the country.  Each hotel pays homage to the heritage of its unique town through cultural nods to the local community.  Launched in 2014, there are currently 28 hotels across the U.S. and U.K. and an additional eight hotels set to open by the end of 2022.

C3’s digital kitchen approach has already experienced success through standalone ventures in cities like Los Angeles and Miami as a first-of-its-kind restaurant incubator in which consumers can order from some of the world’s leading chefs through quick-service culinary brands. Launched just 18 months ago, C3 is poised to expand rapidly, with 200 digital kitchens and eight brands already established by year-end 2020. The C3 portfolio currently includes restaurant brands like Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Plant Nation and EllaMia. These existing models provided a blueprint for C3’s work with Graduate Hotels.

Industry News, NextGen Casual