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More Than 20 ‘Ghost Kitchens’ Are Operating Out Of This Dump In South Of Market

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No one would ever order food from a place as dirty and depressing as this complete dump in SoMa, but no one knows they’re ordering food from this dirty and depressing complete dump in SoMa. In a mildly converted warehouse at 60 Morris Street, a nondescript little alley spot tucked away about a block from the EndUp, dozens of restaurants designed to look like real restaurants on industry-killing meal delivery apps are quietly operating as “ghost kitchens” under a whole bunch of generic and plausible-sounding restaurant names. A Google search on “60 Morris Street delivery” produces more than 20 results for differently named and legitimate-sounding restaurants. But we visited that warehouse spot, and people, this place does not look very sanitary and is clearly not operating within food service guidelines.  

A reader sent us this photo of a ghost kitchen in the Mission, where six ‘delivery-only’ kitchens are operating out of one location. The New York Times described another ghost kitchen at the old Discolandia location on 24th Street, funded by Uber Eats, a venture that TechCrunch describes as “essentially WeWork for restaurant kitchens.” (so you know that’s gonna end well). Last week the Chronicle found a ghost kitchen operating several restaurants out of “a long white trailer occupying four parking spots” beneath a highway overpass. When you order food on GrubHub or Uber Eats, you may not realize that you are not ordering from a real established restaurant, but from a warehouse, and with a business name and listing that is more or less catfishing you with fake photos on their interior or offerings.

Sometimes these ghost kitchens completely steal an established restaurant’s identity to market themselves as the real thing. SFist recently discovered a fake version of Michelin-starred Kin Khao listed on both GrubHub and Seamless.

We popped by one of San Francisco’s most prominent ghost kitchen facilities, and Jesus is this place dirty and depressing. Though Business Insider gave 60 Morris a glowing write-up, we found the place looks like a combination of 850 Bryant and the kind of SRO lobby where the check-in counter has bulletproof glass. It is operated by disgraced Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s new venture CloudKitchens, but their $400 million in VC funding from dirty Saudi Arabian money is not evident in the facility’s hand-written signs, bare bones interior, and general below-minimum-wage dystopian chic. 

There is zero concept of “quality control” in this mass-distribution scheme, and everyone involved appears to have no food service background of any type. The lobby does not look like it would pass an SF Department of Health inspection. The delivery drivers do not grab orders directly, instead the food is placed in numbered locker units that are clearly not equipped with heating and cooling units to maintain proper temperatures. And app-based food delivery drivers are not required by their companies to have the California Food Handlers Ceritification to show even a minimal competence at cleanliness and safe food handling.

Despite this sign saying there was No Parking on the Morris Street, every single one of the drivers we observed in a 45-minute span did, in  fact, park on Morris Street. This has to be awful for anyone who lives nearby.

On a weeknight between 9-9:45 p.m., we observed 4-5 cars parked on Morris Street at all times. The front counter “expediter” person at 80 Morris can clearly see this through the large front window, but CloudKitchens obviously does not give shit about operating in a constant state of illegality.

The sign above (and again, this is a company with $400 million in venture capital) has the scotch-tape-and-magic-marker instructions to 1) Sign In, 2) Watch, 3) Pick Up. Delivery driver are made to wait on folding chairs for the order to come up, at which point it is placed in their numbered locker and they can grab it.

The “kitchen” operates with no recognizable name, and the bizarre fork and knife logo above just happens to be unrecognizable, not speakable in the human language, and not Google-able. We will say the facility at least has a bathroom on hand for drivers’ relief.

You may not care whether your food comes from an actual restaurant with qualified staff, skilled customer service, and fair wages and representation. Maybe you think it’s great that messiah-complex founder types like Travis Kalanick are “disrupting” another industry that was doing fine before they came along, and changing the game with their fake restaurant profiles, below-minimum wage workforce, and demonstrated inability to never, ever make a profit. But people do at least deserve to know if their food is from a real restaurant or a ghost kitchen, because that phenomenon is making San Francisco’s legendary cuisine scene a ghost of its former self.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.

26 Comments

  1. Geek__Girl
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    Is there any scam Kalanick wouldn’t try to “disrupt” something?

  2. HappyHighwayman
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    If I lived there I’d be taking vigilantejustice

  3. Matt Thayer
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    Typo – more or less catfishing you with fake photos on their interior or offerings…..

    Those lockers are leftovers from the gay baths that used to be at this address when EssEff was a funner town and you got your burgers at Sliders…..

  4. PleasantlyVulgar
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    That’s weird… I picked up my own order from this location instead of having it delivered in early Jan and would hardly call it a dump (took a pic while there). They didn’t use these lockers at that time, but how have you so “clearly” determined they aren’t equipped with insulation? When were these photos taken and why are they all from outside the window? The photos you’ve shared here portray what looks like a relatively tidy lobby. There literally isnt a single piece of debris or trash on the cement floors in your last photo. I guess if scotched taped signs and flourecent lighting equate to dump, we should probably close down half of the restaurants in Chinatown and the Mission. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aa01468583b3c4dd0754a09bebbd3937288cd3884488f3e807b0e8fbb67b8bb2.jpg

    • Neil Korsgaard
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      Yes I agree, this is shoddy journalism, more like an editorial. Where is the evidence that “this place does not look very sanitary and is clearly not operating within food service guidelines” or is it really a revelation that “And app-based food delivery drivers are not required by their companies to have the California Food Handlers Certification” neither do pizza deliver drivers from a major chain. What supports your claim that their employees aren’t required to show even a minimal competence at cleanliness and safe food handling? You say “this place does not look very sanitary and is clearly not operating within food service guidelines”, but again, provide no support. You just seem to be jumping on the “startup hater” bandwagon. And no, I also am not a “tech bro” and don’t know who Kalanick is. But I just hate this Trumpian kind of rant.

    • Geek__Girl
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      I see Kalanick still relies on shills to con people.

    • KibblesAhoy
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that you’re a tech bro.

      • Geek__Girl
        April 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

        He is almost certainly a shill for Kalanick. This was how things went with Uber…still does occasionally.

      • PleasantlyVulgar
        April 20, 2020 at 10:47 am

        By your logic, you’re most certainly a shill for broke-ass stuart. Glad we’ve sorted that out. I’m simply asking for some better information or evidence of these claims. As i mentioned, I ordered Little Star from this place once thinking it was an actual location and had no idea it was a cloud kitchen until I arrived. But how is it that my experience as a 1-time visitor to this location seems to be more qualified than any information this arcticle relies on? If anyone is going to be making claims of health code violations and poor working conditions, show us some receipts.

      • PleasantlyVulgar
        April 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

        Your assumption would be incorrect. Not in Tech. Not a bro. Just someone with my own observations and curiosity for some actual information since I am also interested and concerned how these new formats of food delivery will play out for our neighborhood, city, and businesses. This article, unfortunately, didn’t really provide much evidence. If what Broke-ass Stuart is claiming is true, I think we should all know how they arrived at those conclusions.

      • alex carter
        April 20, 2020 at 10:47 am

        Holed up in Mom’s basement reading the Ayn Rand books she got at a garage sale, uhm hunh.

    • Vince O.
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      those restaurants in the mission + chinatown don’t have $400 mil in venture capital backing and actually adhere to health inspection rules that this ghost kitchen sidesteps though.

      • alex carter
        April 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

        Look, you can give me $400M to set up a city-spanning set of clean kitchens staffed by trained personnel who are paid a fair wage, or you can just let me wing it and keep whatever of the $400M I don’t spend, my choice.

      • PleasantlyVulgar
        April 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

        Do these kitchens undergo inspections? If not, I definitely agree they should be held to the same standard as all restaurants. I assumed, ignorantly, that since I was ordering from Little Star or “The Star” as it’s called here at this location, there’d be a similar standard or level of care as their brick and mortar locations.

      • MintyFreshness
        April 20, 2020 at 10:47 am

        I mean, let’s be honest. SFDPH’s annual inspections rarely result in closures of restaurants that should definitely be closed.

  5. April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    This is disgusting and deplorable on all fronts, but you know what? Tech bros/bro-ettes don’t care. As long as they can get that organic/vegan/gluten-free meal for $10 or less, it’s not THEIR problem how the industry operates. This article needs to be seen by the DPH and investigated promptly.

    • James Cutler
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      where can i get that kind of meal for $10 or less? that would be incredible

      • alex carter
        April 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

        I get ads popping up for “meal kits” for $5, do you think they’re prepared in any better conditions?

  6. Terica Do
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    I’ve never, ever ordered anything by app. My son did, from a slammin’ Bernal/Mission BBQ place. It’s was not good. That was the sign from above; it was not good, It was just…delivered. I wept inside.

    • alex carter
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      Stack of burger patties. Jar of mayo. Salt. Pepper. Large white onion, sliced. Loaf of white bread or burger buns if you’re gonna be fancy. There – do it yourself burgers for the week.

      • Dirt-Torpedo
        April 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

        Yeah, it’s not a difficult thing to cook. And one gets better at it with practice.
        Also, a plate of chicken tenders with a side of fries is something befitting a state fair or sporting event. you’re not supposed to eat like that at home.

  7. sftico
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    There’s a ghost kitchen on Missouri St. off Chavez. About 8 “restaurants” operated out of an office/warehouse complex.

    • Boogereater
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      that place is nasty!
      but I’LL STILL DELIVER YOUR GARBAGE FOOD IF YOU WANT ME TOO.

    • alex carter
      April 20, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      I’m sure the class would appreciate photos for the next session!

      • sftico
        April 20, 2020 at 10:42 am

        I’m sure that if the “class” really wants to see it, they can go find it from the directions I’ve provided.

  8. Travis Ames
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am — Reply

    Wow. This is some solid journalism.

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