This startup wants to make it easier for local restaurants to expand beyond their hometown

While a typical food court features a sea of ​​off-white cafeteria seats, fast-food stalls with illuminated signs and pre-made pizzas and soft pretzels behind glass panels – plus lines wrapped along from the counter to the cash register – local kitchens micro food hall is a little less chaotic.

There are no booths or gilded arches, just a glass door with restaurant partner decals and, in some places, a handful of tables and chairs.

Inside, two arrows direct consumers to retrieve their online order from a locker, check its status on a mounted screen, or place a new one on a nearby iPad. The walls are adorned with stories of founders, sharing the origins of Israeli street food restaurant Sababa or Filipino food truck Señor Sisig.

Local Kitchens co-founder and COO Andrew Munday, one of DoorDash’s first employees to head operations, said he was “personally more of a fan of improvements than inventions”. The California-based startup doesn’t want to disrupt the food court, it wants to make it easier for local restaurants to expand beyond their hometown.

Order

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Munday and his co-founders – former DoorDash software engineer Jon Goldsmith (CEO) as well as Jordan Bramble (CTO), whose data and software career spanned Cava and the White House – quickly noticed that local restaurants had no allocated space for the huge increase in takeout and delivery orders that were coming in, let alone resources for expansion.

“We were asking ‘Why aren’t you in the bay, or San Jose, or North Bay, or all these different parts like Sacramento? ‘” Munday told Retail Brew. “We kept getting the same answer, which was, ‘Every time I open a physical store, I don’t see my family for 9 to 12 months.’ We tried to dig a little deeper and think, why is this?

Phantom : Local Kitchens has evaluated ghost kitchens as a possible solution, but while a typical ghost kitchen provides a building and space, businesses still need staff, management, food supply… the list goes on . So Munday and his co-founders set out to build a company that offered an all-in-one deal.

  • Local Kitchens has since grown to six locations (opening its latest in Roseville on Tuesday), each featuring 8-10 local restaurants, and raised $25 million last June from VC, including Stephen Curry’s Penny Jar Capital.

Despite the similarities, Local Kitchens “never” presents itself as a ghost kitchen, Munday said, largely because ghost kitchens aren’t optimized for pickup and typically focus on new brands rather than existing ones. .

  • Local Kitchens prioritizes in-person experience and hospitality, Munday said, with an on-site host to lead “guests” (that’s what they call consumers). Some locations also have indoor and outdoor seating.

“We had such a hard time describing what we did at first,” he said. “The best advice for someone to describe something new is to ask your guests to describe it.” (On the cutting room floor: “a rollercoaster of savory delights.”)

This “roller coaster” includes mix-and-match cuisine options. Local Kitchens allows customers to do this by ordering through its website. Its location in Cupertino, for example, offers Indian, Thai, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Mediterranean dishes, as well as burgers, salads, and ice cream.

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  • They can also place orders for individual restaurants through DoorDash and Uber Eats.

The company selects which restaurants and cuisine types to partner with based on data such as consumer surveys, area demographics and Yelp reviews, Munday said. It also focuses on the suburbs, where restaurant volume is generally lower, especially local eateries, and where people are seen to be more inclined toward pickup than delivery.

Gas cooking: The ultimate goal is to help resource-strapped restaurant owners grow their business, and some of its 19 partner restaurants are on track to hit $3 million in annualized sales with Local Kitchens alone, Munday said. .

“We want to help people thrive across the United States,” Munday said. “We want to take someone from two places to 100.”

Local Kitchens operates a licensing model, Munday said, whereby it pays owners a royalty and they work together on menus that feature 90 to 95 percent of their restaurant’s offerings.

  • The startup said it increased its annual recurring revenue 10x last year and was on track to do the same in 2022. It declined to disclose further financial details about its partnerships with companies. restaurants.
  • He also works with restaurants to create training materials for Local Kitchens employees (there are usually five to 10 workers at a time in a location, depending on the shift) that some then use in their own restaurants, a said Munday.

“The exciting day will be when one of our partners makes, say, $10 million through us. And then the next step, maybe like $100 million, that’s like the real value you put in the pocket of an entrepreneur.

Next : He’s still focused on California for now, “filling” the rest of the Bay Area first, with additional spaces in Davis and Los Gatos on deck, before expanding to southern California in areas like San Diego and Los Angeles. His first location outside the Golden State will likely be Texas, he said. (He already has a Texas-based property manager job posting on his site.)

  • Additionally, Munday said Local Kitchens aims to triple its team of 180 people this year. He’s hiring in kitchen engineering and operations, as well as a market launcher – sounds intense, but it’s basically “quarterback” store launches, a role he says was “l ‘one of the most sought-after gigs’ during the DoorDash era.

With such a new concept, growth and expansion won’t be easy, he noted, but the team’s experience should help.

“We’ve proven through experiences with DoorDash and others that we can scale a business,” Munday said. “It’s a new test, and it’s going to be really tough. But if there’s a team to do it, we’re a pretty good team to bet on in this space.

Gladys T. Hensley