Go read this report on how your next food delivery might be cooked up in a parking lot

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Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP through Getty Images

Mobile kitchens that cater solely to food delivery companies, like Uber Eats and DoorDash, sound like a nice idea in concept, as devoted delivery kitchens can push out food quicker without having to fret about passing meals alongside to servers. But a report from The Wall Street Journal particulars a number of the mishaps related to one trailer-bound ghost kitchen firm, Reef, which includes third-degree burns and regulatory violations.

Just this April, the WSJ reviews that one Reef kitchen in Houston, Texas skilled two fiery accidents in simply 4 months. One concerned a blast that erupted from the kitchen’s propane burners — and by a stroke of luck, the cook dinner got here out unscathed.

While the cook dinner escaped hurt — she occurred to open a fridge on the similar time that shielded her from the flames — it was the second such incident on the similar Houston trailer in 4 months. The first one injured a totally different cook dinner, as flames scorched her face and gave her third-degree burns on her palms that induced pores and skin to peel off her fingers, rendering her unable to work.

This mayhem will get a little much less unsurprising while you notice that Reef truly didn’t begin out in the food business. According to the WSJ, Reef (previously ParkJockey) initially sought to rework parts of parking heaps into trailer-filled parks that comprise totally different service areas. After receiving $1.2 billion in funding from SoftBank in 2018, it purchased out two parking lot administration firms, changing into “the most important parking-lot community in North America.”

And though Reef is outwardly a parking lot tycoon, it nonetheless has points securing a correct parking house to plant its trailers. The WSJ discovered that the corporate has to resort to renting parking heaps for over 70 p.c of its kitchens.

Reef discovered it wasn’t in a position to put trailers on a lot of its heaps, as some had enclosed garages, the place propane tanks and utility hookups aren’t allowed. Others have been owned by landlords who didn’t need food vehicles, former workers stated.

In addition, some cities classify Reef’s trailers as food vehicles, that means the corporate typically has to tow its trailers to commissaries to fill up on water — typically shelling out $20,000 for towing in a single day, as famous by the WSJ. To complicate issues additional, the trailers aren’t made to be used on the street, probably straining propane strains and resulting in leaks. Reef has additionally been hit with numerous violations, together with some for working without a allow and never towing trailers to devoted commissaries after use, resulting in the suspension of over 25 trailers since this summer season.

Despite all of those obtrusive points, the WSJ states that Reef’s food income reached $12 million in September, 600 p.c greater than final 12 months. Wendy’s, Burger King, and Popeye’s have additionally reportedly sealed offers with Reef, which implies when you get your food delivered from a few of these places, you gained’t even realize it got here from a trailer. According to the WSJ, Reef at present has round 350 cell kitchens.

Reef does have some competitors, nonetheless, in the type of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens. Kalanick’s floating kitchen firm additionally appears to be experiencing operational difficulties however of a utterly totally different breed. It reportedly suffers from the identical form of chaos that surrounded Uber beneath Kalanick’s lead, together with excessive turnover charges and an “aggressive inner tradition.”

Whether you’ve by no means heard of ghost kitchens otherwise you stroll by one each day, this WSJ report offers you an inside have a look at how the business operates.

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