September 24, 2019
California-based Kitchen United, a chain of "ghost kitchens", has just raised $40 million to expand to major U.S. cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
CEO Jim Collins pegs the commercial kitchen company as a cross between a tech, real estate, and food company, and has already landed big clients like Sweetgreen and Chick-fil-A which have their own national footprints.
"You'll see us focus on deploying our kitchen centers in those [new] locations and then actually expanding our tech footprint to make it easier for the restaurants to operate in our space," Collins told Cheddar.
GV, formerly Google Ventures, and RXR Realty, one of New York City's largest real estate companies, co-led the Series B funding round.
Collins shrugged off the idea of increased competition in the ghost kitchen space, saying the addressable market allows room for multiple players to grab a slice. He says consensus estimates show the market could grow from $40 billion to $200 billion in the next four years.
"There's room for a whole bunch of people," Collins said. "In some respects, that's comforting because we're not trying to do it alone."
The company's shared kitchens allow restaurants to offer takeout, delivery, and catering options without having to support its own storefront. But Collins says that regardless of whether or not a restaurant maintains a physical location, customers' emotional connections to food remains strong.
"If our favorite little restaurant down the street… takes our favorite thing off the menu, we're gonna go yell at them about that," Collins said. "What we're effectively trying to do is bring [the customer's] favorite restaurants to them and make it easier for the consumer to get access to the products they want."