Kitchen United closed all of its Kroger ghost kitchen locations, almost a year and a half after raising $100 million in growth capital.
“We appreciate their partnership and support over the years. We are currently looking to pivot back into a software business,” a Kitchen United spokesperson said via email.
CEO Atul Sood confirmed the move on social media.
“Kitchen United recently shut down our food halls within Kroger grocery stores after a multi-year partnership in an effort to focus on our core technology,” the executive said on Wednesday. “I want to thank the wonderful team at Kroger for their partnership throughout the years.”
The company operates virtual food halls where customers choose from different restaurant menus and place all items in one online shopping cart for delivery from a single driver. Kitchen United had virtual food halls inside a handful of Kroger stores in Texas, Ohio, and Indiana. The brand’s ability to houses multiple restaurant concepts under one roof for delivery and pickup is powered by a proprietary MIX software platform. The partnership dated back to August 2021.
In July 2022, The company announced a $100 million funding round, with Kroger as one of the leading investors. Other contributors included Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International, Circle K, and Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning. Kitchen United said at the time that it saw triple-digit topline growth for three consecutive years and that it planned to “significantly increase” its technological and physical footprint. The idea was to focus on major markets like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Texas.
Sood, who co-founded Kitchen United, stepped in as CEO in September after former chief executive Michael Montagano left for the same role at Dog Haus.
Ghost kitchen operators have come under fire in recent years as the COVID pandemic faded and consumer habits returned to normal. For instance, Wendy’s signed a 700-unit deal with REEF Kitchens in 2021, but has largely pivoted away from the delivery-only model since then. CloudKitchens, led by Uber co-founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick, announced staffing cuts in September. In the casual-dining segment, Red Robin and Chili’s moved to discontinue their virtual brands.
Founded in 2017, Kitchen United was an early player in the ghost kitchen/off-premises space.