Bay Area/ San Jose/ Food & Drinks
'Micro food hall' startup Local Kitchens is opening four more Bay Area locations including Los Gatos and Santa Clara(Photo: Local Kitchens)
Published on April 29, 2022

The San Francisco startup Local Kitchens, which is basically a ghost kitchen that you can visit in person and functions as a "digital food hall," is opening a new location in Los Gatos this June, one in Campbell and one in Mill Valley this July, as the Business Times is reporting.

Restaurant News also reports Aggie Village in Davis is getting a new Local Kitchens storefront this Spring. Another location is opening in Santa Clara by the end of the year.

“We are confident that Local Kitchens will be complementary to the dining options available to these community members – both in terms of our wide variety of cuisines and convenience,” Local Kitchens CEO and Co-founder Jon Goldsmith said in a statement.

Each Local Kitchens location puts several quick-service restaurants under the same roof, then allows people order food for pickup or delivery. The business describes itself as a “micro food hall that lets you mix-and-match your favorite local restaurants in one easy order.”

However, these businesses don’t fit the typical definition of a food hall. The most pronounced distinction is that you can’t wander around and pick your food after checking the restaurants out in-person. Further, you can’t sit there to eat your food.

The food at Local Kitchens is typically fast-casual style and can be ordered online, through the app, or in-person through a kiosk. That business model was already growing before the pandemic began, but it has taken off as more people became reliant on ordering food for delivery. The Chronicle expects food delivery as an industry is going to hit the $365 billion mark by 2030.

Local Kitchens typically hosts delivery favorites for the area — but those that perhaps haven't expanded out of their original SF location. Its other locations have featured restaurants like The Melt, Señor Sisig, Oren's Hummus, Proposition Chicken, Curry Up Now, Saucy Asian, MIXT, and more.

Hoodline reported almost exactly a year ago about two Local Kitchens locations opening up in San Jose and Cupertino. The "digital food hall" model allows restaurants to join forces and avoid some of the traditional problems businesses in the Bay face, such as high rent costs and staffing struggles. The space within the facility is taken up entirely by kitchens, rather than dining space, so the operators get more bang for their buck. But critics contend that these ghost kitchens tend to serve lower-quality versions of the food made at the original purveyors — kitchen staffs tend to be dealing with frozen and/or premade meal components from multiple menus at once — and such models take market share away from mom-and-pop businesses who have to pay normal overhead costs to stay in business.

With the new locations opening this year, Local Kitchens will have nearly a dozen locations across California.