Backed by Google funding, local proof-of-concept kitchen readies for nation-wide expansion
Published : Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | 8:15 AM
[Updated] Kitchen United Pasadena hosted a Neighborhood TasteFest on Thursday to introduce Wetzel’s Pretzels and Halal Guys as the newest members of the company’s innovative “Virtual Food Hall” concept.
Kitchen United provided free sampling stations of other restaurants in their repertoire including Canter’s Deli, AmazeBowls, chEAT Day, Grilled Cheese Heaven, Mama Musubi, and The Pizza Plant.
While the samples themselves were only samples, intrepid eaters most definitely got a stomach full once they made a full round through the offerings.
“We had a lot of people that were lining up waiting, right as we started,” said Courtney Cook, Director of Community Engagement.
Kitchen United takes advantage of the growing on-demand food industry by providing an offsite kitchen facility that restaurants can use strictly for to-go and delivery orders.
When customers place a delivery order with one of the 8 participating restaurants, like Canter’s Deli, for example, the food is cooked by a Canter’s chef at Kitchen United, and then picked up and delivered from Kitchen United’s facility. The member restaurants are free to partner with GrubHub, UberEats, Postmates, or whichever food delivery service they prefer.
Customers can also visit the kitchen in-person and order from the various restaurants’ menus and eat it in house—Kitchen United’s own unique dine-in experience.
While the restaurants’ menus might be smaller and optimized for to-go ordering, where else can you order from multiple restaurants at the same location?
Well, maybe a mall’s food court, hence the “Virtual Food Hall” moniker that Kitchen United’s EVP of Marketing Craig Cochrane used (the in-person ordering is accomplished on tablets).
Kitchen United provides permits, licensing, all of the front-house operations—the restaurant just needs to supply the cooks and the food.
“Some restaurants have a location that’s overwhelmed by delivery to go orders and it’s kind of interrupting the customer experience,” said Craig.
By offloading the pickup and delivery orders to Kitchen United’s facility, the restaurant can simply focus on what it does best—providing customers with a unique and enjoyable dine-in experience.
At Kitchen United, several different cooking staffs from different restaurants are all working in the same kitchen at the same time. Each staff has their own food prep line, uses their own cooking equipment, and generally functions fairly autonomously.
Mike Mirkil, VP of Consumer Marketing, stressed the fact that Kitchen United does not force the businesses to use a certain delivery carrier or implement certain business practices.
Because several different restaurants are working in the same kitchen, the various cooking staffs are sure to rub shoulders with one another.
“There’s a kind of camaraderie between the people in the back of the house about getting to know each other,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is create an environment where we’re fostering that sharing of knowledge.”
According to Mirkil, about two-thirds of Kitchen United Pasadena’s business is delivery/to-go orders, and the remaining third is dine-in customers.
The Pasadena location is the company’s first and serves as the proof-of-concept for the unique business model.
Next up? National expansion.
Since receiving funding from Google Ventures this past October (a feat in and of itself), Kitchen United plans to open 15 kitchens nationwide by the end of the year, and 400 within three years.
And it all started in Pasadena.
Kitchen United is located at 55 S Madison Ave. For more, see https://www.kitchenunited.com/.