With more and more restaurants, food entrepreneurs, and delivery services using ghost kitchens, it seemed only a matter of time before DoorDash built one of its own. So it’s not too surprising that today, the San Francisco-based company announced the launch of its first ever shared commissary kitchen, dubbed DoorDash Kitchens, which will house multiple to-go restaurant concepts under a single roof, according to an email sent to The Spoon.
DoorDash customers can now order from a handful of chain restaurants and either pick up food right at the commissary or have it delivered. This first location of DoorDash Kitchens, located in Redwood City, CA, will serve several cities in the California Peninsula area, including Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Woodside, among others.
DoorDash has partnered with four restaurant chains for this first run of DoorDash Kitchens: Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, Rooster & Rice, Humphry Slocombe, and The Halal Guys.
The biggest benefit for those merchants, as well as any others that might come onboard in the future is geographic reach. “Over time we’ve heard that our partners have been looking for new ways to grow their business,” Fuad Hannon, Head of New Business Verticals for DoorDash, said to me over the phone. “Launching new geographies is one of the most clear ways that we can help.”
It’s also a cheaper option for a restaurant than building a new location from the ground up, or even retrofitting an existing building. “For merchants, it means reaching new audiences without bearing the high costs of building out more brick-and-mortar locations,” Hannon said of the Kitchens concept.
So, for example, Nation’s Giant Hamburgers has no brick-and-mortar locations currently in Palo Alto. However, operating out of a commissary kitchen nearby allows the chain to reach customers in that area without incurring costs around building infrastructure, permits and licenses, or maintaining a dining room setup. Hannon said DoorDash provides the restaurants with kitchen space and proper equipment, and also handles things like permitting and last-mile logistics for the businesses. “It’s really quite turnkey for our partners,” he said.
A little less clear is how many of these kitchens DoorDash plans to build around the U.S. in future. Hannon wouldn’t say if more locations are already planned. But according to recent numbers, 60 percent of all restaurant orders are now off-premises, and ghost kitchens help restaurants fulfill much of this demand. Just look at Kitchen United’s growing empire, the amount of work Starbucks is putting into the concept, and even efforts from DoorDash competitors like Uber Eats and Grubhub.
All of which is to say that ghost kitchens are starting to become table stakes for restaurants, and it would be more surprising if we didn’t see additional locations from DoorDash in future.