CloudKitchens, the secretive ghost kitchen startup founded by ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, has purchased more than 40 real estate properties across two dozen cities for more than $130 million, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal analyzed a number of different limited-liability companies, tracing their origins back to the business addresses of City Storage Systems, the parent company of CloudKitchens.
CloudKitchens has been notoriously secretive about its operations, and the Journal’s work not only gives us a glimpse into how much the company is spending, but where it could potentially be setting up ghost kitchen operations.
Ghost kitchens are centralized commercial kitchen spaces for restaurants to fulfill off-premises and delivery-only restaurant concepts. They have all the infrastructure needed for a restaurant to prepare food and serve as a delivery hub, without any of the additional overhead that comes with dine-in eating.
According to the Journal’s analysis, it looks like CloudKitchens has acquired buildings in:
- Portland, OR
- Las Vegas, NV
- Columbus, OH
- Memphis, TN
- Nashville, TN
- Miami Beach, FL
- Queens, NY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Seattle, WA
As the Journal notes, CloudKitchens doesn’t say much about its business, including its locations. The company has evidently been just as hush-hush during these real estate transactions and not directly identifying itself with some sellers.
The Journal article is worth highlighting because it gives us some sense of just how big CloudKitchens is and could get. The ghost kitchen market is expected by some to hit as high as $1 trillion by 2030, and there are already a number of players in the space including Kitchen United, Zuul, Yummy and more (see our Ghost Kitchen market map for more). But if CloudKitchens has already attained national level reach, then it could be poised to quickly dominate the space.
Though CloudKitchens has reportedly spent $130 million on real estate, the company raised $400 million from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund last year. And given Kalanick’s track record with Uber, chances are good it could easily raise more.
With the pandemic still in full swing around the planet, the restaurant biz will still need to rely on delivery to stay afloat. Ghost kitchens will play an increasingly important part of that survival plan.
For more on ghost kitchens, you should read The Spoon Plus Guide to Ghost Kitchens (membership required), which outlines where the market has been and where it’s going.