Biz Buzz Monday: Chain restaurant to open ‘virtual kitchen’ in Dubuque

Tammy Hammel cuts a sandwich while preparing practice meals for Bennigan’s at Holiday Inn Dubuque on Friday. The virtual kitchen will open Monday, Feb. 22. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. In addition to this update, we will highlight more developments from Dubuque in Tuesday’s edition.

A familiar restaurant brand will establish a presence in Dubuque.

Bennigan’s On the Fly will open with its full menu on Monday, Feb. 22 in the city and offer about 20 established favorites from the well-known restaurant chain. Some featured items will be available as early as Wednesday.

The new food option will come in the form of a “virtual kitchen,” meaning products will be available for pickup or delivery, but a traditional Bennigan’s-themed dine-in experience will not be offered for customers.

Items will be cooked within an existing kitchen at Holiday Inn Dubuque, 450 Main St.

Hotel General Manager Elliott Rhoad is confident the new offering will be a hit.

“There’s a huge demand for new food in this market. We saw how popular the Sonic (which recently opened in Plaza 20) was,” he said. “But many people are still hesitant to go out to dinner. I think this is the perfect time to bring this new concept to the market.”

Bennigan’s is an Irish-themed restaurant chain that was founded in 1976. Its parent company filed for bankruptcy in 2008, a move that resulted in the closure of most restaurant locations.

The new “On the Fly” concept recently garnered the attention and support of Kinseth Hospitality, a hotel management, development and ownership company that oversees dozens of properties, including the Holiday Inn in Dubuque. Kinseth Hospitality also will open a Bennigan’s On The Fly in Coralville, Iowa, this quarter.

The Dubuque Bennigan’s will serve well-known items from the traditional Bennigan’s menu, including its Turkey O’Toole, baby back ribs, Brownie Bottom Pie and Monte Cristo sandwich. Customers can place orders for curbside pickup or have items delivered through a third-party service such as EatStreet, DoorDash and UberEats.

Rhoad emphasized that River Rock Kitchen and Tap, which operates within the Holiday Inn, will remain in business and will not be affected by the presence of Bennigan’s On the Fly. Those ordering Bennigan’s do have the option of eating their meals at the River Rock Kitchen and Tap location.

Customers can place orders at BennigansOnTheFly-Dubuque.com.