Jesse Koontz, who also owns a bricks-and-mortar Dog Haus in Lincoln Park, points out the conveyor belt at the new Kitchen United delivery-only restaurant facility in Chicago, where Dog Haus has been a tenant for two weeks.

The conveyor belt may be the neatest thing at Kitchen United’s first ghost kitchen, in the River North neighborhood in Chicago, where restaurant operators place their packaged orders and they’re whisked away overhead to get to the waiting delivery drivers and then to hungry diners.

Jesse Koontz, the franchisee for Dog Haus in Chicago who started a delivery-only operation two weeks ago at the new Kitchen United facility, showed off that feature in a tour today, but he also listed a couple of other nice aspects of the arrangement.

For one, Kitchen United supplies all the equipment to restaurant operators, except for proprietary items, in Dog Haus’s case a steamer that gets hotdogs to 140 degrees before they’re finished on a grill, and an over-easy egg maker that cooks six at a time for Dog Haus burgers.

For two, all orders come in on an OrderMark display no matter which app the customer is using, eliminating the “tablet hell” operators experience when they have a separate tablet for each delivery platform. OrderMark is the brainchild of Alex Canter, the fourth-generation restaurateur of the famous Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles. At the Food on Demand Conference in April, Canter said he invented the system when trying to get Canter’s Deli into the mobile ordering world.

For three, and perhaps the best of all: Kitchen United’s staff does the dishes overnight for all of its restaurant tenants. “They want us as a restaurant to focus” on food preparation and packaging, Koontz said. 

He opened his Kitchen United 350-square-foot space two weeks ago and signed a six-month lease for $6,500 a month in rent, but with the first two months free and the subsequent four months half off.

Chick-fil-A is also up and running at the facility, with a space about five times bigger than Dog Haus’s. Urban Belly, a local sensation, is up and running, too, with others slated to come in soon. 

Koontz says he likes the mix of national brands and local favorites in the same place, and believes the nearby Groupon headquarters, for example, with 9,000 employees, will provide a fruitful customer base.

Kitchen United, backed by Google Ventures, started with one test ghost kitchen in Pasadena, California, and plans up to 19 more openings across the country this year, including a second location in Chicago to open soon. Dog Haus plans to open in all of the ghost kitchens, a story we’ll cover in more detail in the next print edition of Franchise Times.




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