Kitchen United

There is no shortage of people ordering restaurant food for delivery. And there is no shortage of services who will gladly deliver those people restaurant food. There is, evidently, a shortage of kitchen space to make all that restaurant delivery food.

That’s where Kitchen United aims to make a difference. The company bills itself as a “culinary on-demand startup,” and today it opened its first commercial kitchen space targeting restaurants that want to increase, or keep up with, the volume of delivery orders.

Located in Pasadena, CA the 12,000 sq. ft. space can house 15 different clients (or “concepts,” as Kitchen United describes them) and features a delivery-specific infrastructure. Restaurants get access to a kitchen with standard equipment (burners, ovens, fryers, fridges, etc.), as well as Kitchen United employees who will wash dishes, manage inbound orders and assist with expediting food to the correct delivery service.

“When a restaurant operator comes to a KU kitchen, they get a virtual restaurant solution,” Kitchen United CEO, Jim Collins told me.

Because Kitchen United was created to help facilitate delivery orders, the building itself is designed to handle the literal traffic generated by the steady stream of drivers. The building has dedicated parking spots for delivery drivers, there are video screens to direct people to the proper pick-up, and attendants to confirm that the right food is going to the right people.

The Pasadena location is the first of 20 to 30 planned Kitchen United centers to be built across the country next year. To help fund this rapid expansion, Kitchen United also announced today that it has raised and undisclosed Series A round from Cali Group, Avista Investments and other private investors.

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.

The Pasadena location has already signed on its first batch of tenants, including Neal Fraser’s Fritzi Coop, Mama Musubi, Barney’s Gourmet Burgers and Canter’s Deli. In a nice bit of synergy, Kitchen United is using Ordermark, the delivery order ticket management system founded by Alex Canter (of the aforementioned deli).

There are many players in the commercial kitchen co-working/rental space, all of whom seem to be growing. PilotWorks, The Food Corridor and Commonwealth Kitchen are all expanding their commercial kitchen services. Those players, however, seem to be targeting food entrepreneurs, and smaller players looking to build a food business.

Collins told me that Kitchen United will serve those type of clientele as well, but its focus on restaurants is a smart differentiator. For the most part, restaurants already know what they’re doing, and since they are focusing on existing menus, already know how to do it. This should reduce the actual amount of work and assistance that Kitchen United needs to supply.

It’s also a smart play for restaurants who can dedicate resources on both the delivery and in-store aspects of their business to ensure the best experiences for each.

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