How ‘digital food halls’ are transforming the South Bay restaurant scene

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — As the pandemic has forced restaurants to reinvent themselves after a year of being shut down, many have turned to digital platforms to offer take-out and delivery. 

Over the last year, delivery apps have been popular in helping restaurants stay afloat as COVID restrictions limited foot traffic. 

Now, so-called “digital food halls” may soon take over. 

“There’s always these great restaurants in cities and helping them expand in a light way to the surrounding suburbs,” says Andrew Munday, CEO of Local Kitchens. 

“We’re trying to bring a lot of higher quality selection to the suburbs, so a lot of people savor food from the maybe when they worked or lived in the city is now available in the suburbs.”

Similar to “ghost kitchens,” Local Kitchens, a Palo Alto-based company founded by former DoorDash employees Jon Goldsmith and Andrew Munday, allows customers to order from numerous menus online or from onsite kiosks. 

Munday tells KRON4 News even before the pandemic, there was a demand for alternatives than the traditional restaurant model. 

“Is this idea of multi-brand ordering so it’s very exciting when people can order from all their favorite restaurants, all in one basket,” says Munday.

“I’ve been interested to learn that families before us would drive around to different restaurants all in the same night just to make their family happy,” Munday added. 

“Now they can come to a Local Kitchens and they can order three, four, five, six, I’ve even seen seven brands all in one ticket.”

After launching a few months back, Local Kitchens has now been able to team up with several local restaurants to offer a downsized version of their menu. 

Like many restaurants, Curry Up Now had big plans in 2020 to expand its operations just when the pandemic hit.

“We were preparing for some big things, we’d just opened three restaurants,“ says Akash Kapoor, owner of Curry Up Now. 

“Delivery has always been a big part of our business, so that fortunately helped us.” 

But with its new partnership with Local Kitchens, Curry Up Now is optimistic about the future. 

“It’s another avenue of branding, it’s another avenue of reaching your guests instead of them waiting 45 minutes for food and going through two or three deliveries, they’re able to get food quicker,” says Kapoor.

“Our employees are happy they can see their guests, I mean hospitality is a big part of the business and especially our bar business has finally picked up because more people can sit inside.” 

Similar to Curry Up Now, Proposition Chicken owner Ari Feingold saw much of its catering business dwindle with the onset of the pandemic. 

Feingold tells KRON4 News he is feeling excited about COVID restrictions continuing to loosen and hopes partnership with Local Kitchens continues to help grow his business post-pandemic. 

“I am primarily a chef, it’s really important that the food is exactly perfect and what I’ve noticed working with this partnership is that it is.”

“And the reviews and feedback are just as good as the locations that we actually operate ourselves, so it’s been just a win-win situation for us.”

There are three locations throughout the South Bay, including Cupertino, San Jose, Menlo Park and one East Bay location in Lafayette. 

The newest location to open are in San Jose and Cupertino where Local Kitchens has partnered with nine restaurants that include: 

  • Curry Up Now (Indian Street food) 
  • Glaze (teriyaki grill) 
  • Humphry Slocombe (tce cream) 
  • The Little Chihuahua (sustainable Mexican) 
  • MIXT (gourmet salads)
  • Proposition Chicken (chicken sandwiches, salads, and entrees) 
  • Saucy Asian (Korean, Latin and California mash-ups)
  • Senor Sisig (Filipino street food)
  • Wise Sons (deli-style dishes)
  • Sajj (Mediterranean food) 

To learn more about Local Kitchens, click here.

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