Inside DoorDash’s Silicon Valley ghost kitchen, a ‘WeWork for restaurants’ that allows tenants like Chick-fil-A to focus on food delivery

Food delivery platform DoorDash's new ghost kitchen in Silicon Valley gives restaurants individual kitchen stations in a shared space.

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Food delivery platform DoorDash’s new ghost kitchen in Silicon Valley gives restaurants individual kitchen stations in a shared space.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider
  • Food delivery platform DoorDash has ventured into the ghost kitchen market.
  • Its new ghost kitchen, DoorDash Kitchens, in Redwood City, California, allows five restaurant brands, including Chick-fil-A, a kitchen station in a shared space to focus solely on scaling their takeout business.
  • Ghost kitchens are a hot trend in the food delivery arena. They allow restaurants to be closer to a market without shelling out the cash needed for a brick-and-mortar location.
  • We paid DoorDash Kitchens a visit to see what it was like. Check it out.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The San Francisco-based DoorDash is the first food delivery platform in the US to venture into the ghost kitchen market.

These types of kitchens go by many names, like commissary, virtual, dark, cloud, or ghost kitchens. But the idea is that restaurateurs can rent out kitchen stations in a shared space to allow them to scale their takeout business without taking up room in a traditional dine-in location.

They’re “essentially WeWork for restaurant kitchens,” as TechCrunch’s Danny Crichton wrote.

And they’re a hot trend in the food delivery world, allowing restaurants to be closer to a market without shelling out the cash needed for a brick-and-mortar location.

The ghost kitchen supplies each partner with everything they need, like sinks and cooking equipment. And these kitchens can also do marketing for its business partners, which is a feat provided by DoorDash Kitchens as well.

The food delivery platform’s new ghost kitchen allows customers to order food for delivery or pickup on the DoorDash app and gives its restaurant brands, which include Chick-fil-A, access to six nearby markets for delivery and 13 for pickup. Both options include the Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and the affluent Atherton markets.

We paid the kitchen a visit to see what it was like. Check it out.


DoorDash’s new ghost kitchen is in Redwood City, California, about an hour south of San Francisco.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

DoorDash chose both locally founded and national businesses that were already popular and successful on the platform to be in the ghost kitchen.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

So the merchants, or tenants, ended up being Nation’s Giant Hamburger, Rooster & Rice, The Halal Guys, and Humphry Slocombe.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

And most recently, Chick-fil-A quietly jumped into the mix.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Eater


It’s seemingly already a hit — when we visited, Chick-fil-A orders dominated the pickup shelves.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

In total, five brands operate out of DoorDash’s Redwood City kitchen. Here’s how the shared kitchen space works.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

Each brand has its own station. So for example, The Halal Guys, Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, and Chick-fil-A’s stations are all located in the same hallway.

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The entrance to Rooster & Rice’s kitchen station.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

Business Insider was not given permission to photograph the Chick-fil-A kitchen station.


The restaurants worked with DoorDash to customize their stations to their specific needs.

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The Rooster & Rice kitchen station.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

So sinks, equipment, and other specific infrastructural needs were able to be met.

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The Rooster & Rice kitchen station.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

Rooster & Rice has six locations in the Bay Area, none of which are close to the DoorDash Kitchens.

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The Rooster & Rice kitchen station.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

The Halal Guys has seven locations in the Bay Area. The nearest Halal Guys location is just five miles north of DoorDash Kitchens.

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The Halal Guys kitchen station.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

But Jason Wu, an operations manager at The Halal Guys, told Business Insider that working with DoorDash Kitchens was an opportunity to explore a different delivery model for customers.

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The Halal Guys kitchen station.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

Having a station in a ghost kitchen allows a restaurateur to scale their delivery business while leaving more room in a traditional brick-and-mortar for dine-in customers.

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A Halal Guys worker prepares an order.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

And it’s also less expensive than opening up a new retail location.

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A Halal Guys worker prepares an order.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

“The one issue that everybody has today is real estate,” Wu said. It’s scarce, especially in the Bay Area.

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A Halal Guys worker prepares an order.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

The Halal Guys declined to disclose the monthly cost to rent out a kitchen station, but the managers said it’s comparable to other real estate leases in the region.

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A Halal Guys worker in the restaurant’s kitchen station.
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Katie Canales/Business Insider

The closest Chick-fil-A is further away in Sunnyvale, about a 25-minute drive south of DoorDash Kitchens.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

But it may not be for long — the brand intends to open a brick-and-mortar in Redwood City in 2020, which has sparked a backlash from those in the community who are opposed to hosting a brand with an anti-LGBTQ history.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

DoorDash did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. In a statement to Business Insider, Chick-fil-A said “we can confirm we will be opening a freestanding Chick-fil-A restaurant in Redwood City in 2020. We look forward to joining the community and serving all of our guests delicious food in an environment of genuine hospitality.”

Source: SF Eater


Each brand has a corresponding shelf out in the lobby for orders to await their delivery drivers or customers for pickup.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

There’s a designated area on the side of the building for delivery drivers to park.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

Dinnertime is the busiest time for the kitchen, but there were a fair amount of delivery drivers inside the lobby when we visited during the lunch rush.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

There’s also a seating area for customers who order their food for pickup to sit and eat if they choose.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

DoorDash Kitchens may be onto something as the $13 billion food delivery industry continues to disrupt how restaurants have traditionally operated.

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Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Fast Company