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Ghost Kitchen Companies
Ghost kitchens, a buzzy class of startups, were already betting that delivery would grow in market share, attracting founders including billionaire Uber ex-CEO Travis Kalanick, but the rapid increase in delivery demand has accelerated their growth. These companies operate a kitchen that hosts multiple restaurants or menus, from which they only do delivery orders (or sometimes pick up). Some run their own food brands, while others partner with local chefs or established delivery brands.
- CloudKitchens – Through his investment fund, 10100, Travis Kalanick acquired majority control of City Storage Systems, a real estate investment company with an interest in redeveloping urban spaces for new uses, including ghost kitchens, operating under the name of CloudKitchens. The company describes itself as offering “smart kitchens for delivery-only restaurants.” Kalanick himself has reportedly invested $300 million into the venture. The other major investor is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund which invested $400.
- Keatz – The German company, Keatz, began setting up ghost kitchens in Berlin and has expanded to 10 sites in Amsterdam, Madrid, Barcelona and Munich. It has attracted funding from US and European investors totaling €19 million, including €7 million in March 2019 by RTP Global.
- Kitchen United – Google Ventures has invested $10 million in the Pasadena-based company. In addition to providing services for restaurants wishing to expand their delivery operations, they rent space by the hour to chef-entrepreneurs wishing to experiment with new concepts. The Kitchen United company has ghost kitchens in eight US cities, including Pasadena, Scottsdale, Atlanta, Chicago and Columbus, OH with plans to have 15 kitchen centers opened by 2020.
- Deliveroo Editions, the ghost kitchen arm of the London-based food-delivery app, Deliveroo, announced plans in 2017 to set up 30 kitchens in London and Brighton. In May 2018, Deliveroo announced the creation of a £5 million innovation fund to explore new ventures, including developing new restaurant concepts to be operated out of Editions kitchens. The restaurant concepts and their locations will be determined through analysis of Deliveroo’s meal delivery data. As part of its expansion into ghost kitchens, Deliveroo Editions has equipped mobile, shipping container-sized kitchens it locates in British cities that lack variety in food delivery choices.
- Mumbai-based Rebel Foods, which began as a restaurant food delivery company, has expanded into cloud kitchens. In September 2019 the company announced a new round of investment from Goldman Sachs and other partners totaling $2 billion rupees ($28 million). Earlier funders include Sequoia Capital, LightboxVC and Sistema Asia Fund. The company claims over 200 cloud kitchen locations in India.
- UberEats, Uber’s food delivery service and app recently opened its first ghost kitchen in Paris and has since added more, though none in the US
- Other entries in the ghost kitchen field include U.K.-based Karma Kitchen, the India-based Swiggy Access, and Zuul Kitchens, which recently opened a location in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood with nine separate kitchen units.
Ghost kitchens — professional cooking facilities created for the preparation of delivery-only meals — enable restaurants to rapidly start delivering food to their customers. These kitchens exploded in popularity this year, but the question remains, are ghost kitchens here to stay, or will they go the way of the food hall and crumble like a house of cards?
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