Cosmo Burger and the rise of the ‘Ghost Kitchen’
By Tyler Schneider
A new business model has cropped up during the pandemic — the ghost kitchen. Inside Dodson’s Bar and Commons at 7438 Wornall, one small burger shop has become somewhat of a local flagship example of the concept in the Waldo neighborhood.
The result of a collaboration between Dodson’s Eric Jones and self described “burger boy” Jacob Kruger, Cosmo Burger sprung up on October 21, to what the latter describes as “steady-to-good business” in spite of a shutdown.
“That wasn’t really the initial intention we had, that we were going to open up a ghost kitchen. With what’s going on in the world right now, I wanted to make sure that we were going to create a business model that was going to work with the times we live in. Right now, 90 percent of the business that we do is carry-out,” Kruger said.
Kruger’s push to open up Cosmo Burger started in July after he had stepped away from his previous position as the general manager of Bier Station.
“I had been friends and colleagues in the industry with Eric Jones, who runs Dobson’s, for a while. We had talked about an idea for working together, but we weren’t really sure what it was going to be. We kind of landed on opening a burger joint,” Kruger said.
The first push was to get the word out. While there are 476 likes and 489 followers on the Cosmo Burger Facebook page, the classic ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising strategy has been another key aspect of Cosmo’s rise in popularity. With it, too, came a fair amount of coverage in local news and dining outlets.
“Creating a good social media presence was really what I built it on at first, because it spreads as people continue to try it and tell their friends about it online,” Kruger explains. “Everything Waldo, they’ve also been really strong stewards of protecting local businesses and making sure that they’re doing okay during this time. It’s something that I’m incredibly grateful for, and I’ve just been blown away by the support we’ve seen from a lot of places and people.”
It’s a business model that Kruger says was more or less “prepared for the worst” from the very beginning. When bars and restaurants were subjected to a new round of citywide restrictions which forced them to close up shop by 10 p.m., on November 20, Kruger took it in stride.
“I think the steps that were made are necessary,” he said of the pandemic response. “We do everything we can to make sure there is contactless pickup and safety measures in place at every step.”
Kruger’s kitchen — which currently features himself as head chef with additional help from two or three members of the Dobson’s staff — serves up “fresh ground beef, house-made pickles, buttered soft potato bun, griddle grilled onions, melty cheese and a scrumptious sauce,” as stated on the official website. More recently, Cosmo Burger has started offering pickles by the pint as well as jarred pickle juice through their online store. All orders can be placed on their homepage.
Cosmo Burger is currently operating Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m., while Dobson’s is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on those same days. Kruger does indicate a desire to expand this offering in the near future.
At the end of the day, Kruger’s passion for one simple activity was all it took to bring about a ‘ghost kitchen’ that has, to date, actually been a lot more visible than the concept may initially imply.
“I love making cheeseburgers,” Kruger says of his ‘burger boy’ moniker. “You’d think that after making as many as I have made in my life, I would get tired of it.”
Clearly, he has not.