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Emerging space: Ghost kitchens

Ghost kitchens are stripped-down commercial kitchen facilities with no dine-in option.

The private markets are constantly evolving, and new spaces rise—and sometimes fall—in the span of a few years. Given this fluidity, it can be challenging to identify and track the most promising spaces of tomorrow. That’s why our analysts have developed a methodology to define and categorize these emerging spaces. In this post, we look at ghost kitchens—just one example of a space that is quickly taking off.

Interested in reading up on more established industry verticals with staying power over the long-term? Learn more about the 50+ industry verticals tracked by PitchBook.

What are ghost kitchens?

Ghost kitchens are stripped-down commercial kitchen facilities with no dine-in option. Sometimes called cloud kitchens, dark kitchens, virtual kitchens, virtual restaurants or restaurant-as-a-service (RaaS for short), ghost kitchens function as hubs for online delivery and catering. Ghost kitchens exist in several varieties, but they all share a common feature: they’re focused exclusively on food delivery.

For example, restaurant-owned and operated ghost kitchens like Taster and Keatz focus on delivery-only operations and run ghost kitchen infrastructure. Ghost kitchen providers, like CloudKitchens and Kitchen United, support restaurants that want delivery options by building out and operating kitchen infrastructure. Delivery apps give restaurants access to their ghost kitchens, but those companies must also sign on to use the associated delivery app.

The growing prominence of ghost kitchen providers relates to consumers’ interest in food-delivery options. As the popularity of ordering food online grows, ghost kitchen startups emerge as an attractive option for restaurants that get little foot traffic and/or seek to spend less on real estate and kitchen staff. Ghost kitchens can even be used by multiple restaurants—an effective way to split the cost of kitchen upkeep and maintenance.

To dive deeper, listen to our recent In Visible Capital podcast episode about ghost kitchens, virtual restaurants and the post-COVID future of foodtech. In the episode, host Lee Gibbs chats with with REEF Technology‘s VP of corporate strategy, Felix Gonzalez Roson, and Creating Culinary Communities’ COO, Brad Reynolds, about the evolution of foodtech, how ghost kitchens could help address food delivery apps’ remaining barriers, and how pandemic-era shifts might impact our dining options and experiences into the future.

Leading company activity

Leading companies

125

Deals

306

Capital invested

$22.27B

Investors

510

Key growth metrics

$13.03B

Capital Invested (TTM)
 
422.62% YoY

$3.66M

Median Deal Size (TTM)
 
82.75% YoY

$1.85B

Median Post Valuation (TTM)
 
6,015.29% YoY

Trending companies in ghost kitchens

DoorDash

  • HQ: San Francisco, CA
  • Leadership: Tony Xu, co-founder and chief executive officer
  • Latest funding: $3.37B, IPO (December 2020)

DoorDash is a food delivery app that provides on-demand food ordering and delivery services. Offering a range restaurants and menus to select from, DoorDash features enable users to schedule deliveries and keep an eye on their orders with real-time tracking.

Deliveroo

  • HQ: London, England
  • Leadership: William Shu, co-founder and chief executive officer
  • Latest funding: $2.08B, IPO (March 2021)

Deliveroo optimizes food ordering and delivery by integrating web and mobile consumers with restaurant tablet-based point-of-sale order management terminals, enabling customers to order food across restaurants for delivery to their doorsteps.

Rebel Foods

  • HQ: Mumbai, India
  • Leadership: Jaydeep Barman, co-founder, chief executive officer and board member
  • Latest funding: $175M, Series F (October 2021)

Rebel Foods operates a cloud kitchen that delivers food on-demand. Rebel Foods’ dark kitchen model delivers menu items from in-house brands via their platform.

report

Q1 2021 Emerging Tech Research: Foodtech

Explore PitchBook's analysis of the market opportunity for emerging kitchen technologies. 
Download report

Most active investors in ghost kitchens

Sequoia Capital

  • HQ: Menlo Park, CA
  • Ghost kitchen investments: 8
  • Last deal date: October 8, 2021

Founded in 1972, Sequoia Capital is a venture capital investment firm that invests in IT, mobile, internet, energy, media, retail sectors and more.

Y Combinator

  • HQ: Mountain View, CA
  • Ghost kitchen investments: 13
  • Last deal date: October 7, 2021

Y Combinator is an accelerator firm that also specializes in funding early-stage startups. The firm invests across artificial intelligence, biotechnology, B2B, biomedical, hardware, healthtech, media, robotic, science, education, transportation, mobile, entertainment, drones, SaaS and virtual reality.

Coatue Management

  • HQ: New York, NY
  • Ghost kitchen investments: 7
  • Last deal date: October 8, 2021

Founded in 1999, Coatue Management is a private equity firm that prefers to invest in technology sectors through buyouts and growth capital.

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