Kitchen United announced today that it has signed lease agreements for spaces in Columbus, OH and Atlanta, GA. The expansions, slated for Spring 2019, will increase the virtual kitchen hub’s presence in markets that are fast becoming hotbeds for food-delivery competition.
Kitchen United, who bills itself as a “culinary on demand” startup, opened its first commissary kitchen space in May 2018 in Pasadena, CA. It followed that launch with a Chicago location that opened in November of the same year, following a $10 million funding round led by GV.
Kitchen United spaces are built specifically for delivery businesses, and can each hold between 10 and 20 different “concepts” (the company’s word for clients). The goal is to provide restaurants space to fulfill the influx of delivery orders without having to open another full restaurant and incur the expense and business risks that go along with an expansion of that magnitude. “Restaurants” rent space and share equipment, and Kitchen United has its own staff to handle dishwashing and packaging orders for delivery drivers.
As my colleague Chris Albrecht wrote last year:
Unlike other virtual or “ghost” kitchens, where restaurants can experiment with new cuisines, Kitchen United’s main mission is to help national and local restaurant chains keep up with demand for their existing menus. Restaurants that want to sign on with Kitchen United can either pay straight rent, or, if Kitchen United believes it can hit the right numbers, there is an option for revenue sharing.
According to the press release, the Columbus location is set to open near the city’s downtown and close to the Ohio State University. The Atlanta location will be housed in the fast-growing West Midtown area, with close access to Georgia Tech. Both locations are in areas that have undergone significant growth in recent years, and give us an idea of markets Kitchen United is targeting. While places like Los Angeles and New York City are part of the company’s future expansion, they also share a list with a number of slightly smaller U.S. cities, Phoenix, Seattle, and Denver are among them.
It makes sense, in many ways. Mega-cities like NYC and LA are important places to get a foothold, but they’re also extremely crowded — arguably saturated — markets for virtual kitchen concepts. But with people leaving top-tier cities in favor of places like Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta, and even Tampa, and with the food delivery market expanding at a blinding pace into those places, there’s both money and reputation to be made.
Kitchen United said in a press release it plans to open 15 new locations in the coming year, including those mentioned above.