Travis Kalanick, the ousted Uber cofounder, has pivoted from the ride-hailing industry to another kind of shareable market: “ghost kitchens.”
Part of Kalanick’s acquisition of the real-estate company City Storage Systems, CloudKitchens — a startup he’s been rather hush-hush about — rents commercial space to offer delivery-only restaurants and chefs a place to prepare food without having to worry about maintaining the dine-in portion of a brick-and-mortar location.
There are many names for these kitchens — commissary, virtual, dark, cloud, or ghost kitchens — but the idea is that restaurateurs can rent out space in them to prepare food that can be delivered through platforms like DoorDash or, yes, UberEats, which was launched during Kalanick’s time at the company.
Commissary kitchens are “essentially WeWork for restaurant kitchens,” as TechCrunch’s Danny Crichton wrote. These “smart kitchens,” as they’re called on the CloudKitchens website, can come with everything a restaurant or chef needs, like sinks, WiFi, and electricity.
They’ve become a hot trend in the food-delivery arena, allowing existing restaurants to be closer to a market without shelling out the cash needed for a brick-and-mortar location. They also allow chefs to work without having to deal with the risky business of opening a new restaurant.
And the kitchens can also do marketing for these businesses, another perk.
Kalanick’s CloudKitchens is right in line with the growing trend — so much so that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund funneled $400 million into the startup in January in what was the first known financial backing by the country since the murder of the American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.
There are already CloudKitchens locations in Chicago and Los Angeles, but The Journal’s Rolfe Winkler and Rory Jones reported that one had been established in San Francisco’s SoMa district, though exactly when is unclear. CloudKitchens did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
The Journal’s report said the kitchen is at 60 Morris St., though you’ll find with a quick Google search of “CloudKitchens San Francisco” that it doesn’t necessarily want to be found.
Nevertheless, we paid Kalanick’s San Francisco ghost kitchen a visit to see what it’s like. Check it out.