DoorDash expands food prep. operation

A chef places a meal in a delivery contain at a DoorDash kitchen.

Written by James Shea

DoodDash is continuing to expand beyond restaurant delivery and is now offering restaurants access to a full-service kitchen in California.

In 2019, DoorDash launched DoorDash Kitchens in Redwood City, CA, a commissary where restaurants could prepare food and have a DoorDash deliver the items. The goal was to help restaurants establish a presence in new markets with limited upfront costs. Brands like Halal Guys, Rooster & Rice, Nation’s Giant Hamburgers and Humphry Slocombe were early participants.

Over the last few months, it became apparent that DoorDash wanted to expand the kitchen beyond being just a commissary. It posted help wanted ads for cooks and other restaurant employees. In late July, the company opened DoorDash Kitchens as a full-service operation. DoorDash employees or workers contracted through DoorDash will prepare the food for the restaurants. The model allows DoorDash to have more control over the entire food production and delivery process and gives restaurants the chance to expand into other markets within hiring staff.

“The restaurant industry is experiencing a time of incredible acceleration, and we are excited to continue exploring new ways to help partners globally pull forward to meet speed and pace of innovation with new kitchen models,” said Ruth Isenstadt, director of DoorDash Kitchens. “We are honored to partner with this group of incredible restaurants to launch our delivery and pickup only location in San Jose.”

DoorDash has also opened a second location but is only running the full-service operation out of the Redwood City location.

“Full service can be a flexible and cost-efficient opportunity for restaurants to test new markets as DoorDash takes on many of the tasks associated with opening and operating a storefront such as hiring, meal prep, procuring equipment and sourcing ingredients,” according to DoorDash.

The move puts DoorDash more into all areas of food production and distribution. DoorDash is under pressure to enter new markets given the pressure on the regulatory side, where places like San Francisco and New York City have capped delivery fees, and from upstarts like GoPuff, which recently started to deliver prepared meals.

DoorDash’s second location is in San Jose, Calif. The kitchen is preparing food from local and national brands, including Aria Korean Street Food, Canter’s Deli, Curry Up Now, Milk Bar, The Melt Express and YiFang Taiwan Fruit Tea.

“Our SF-homegrown brand has been serving up delicious Korean comfort food for almost 10 years, and we have been so honored by the reception in our city,” said Charlie Kim, owner of Aria Korean Street Food. “Now I want to see if our concept is liked in other cities. San Francisco has high rent, and it’s hard for a small business to add more locations. We’ve experimented with other delivery-only operations, but it was operationally burdensome to produce a quality of food we hold ourselves to and market the new location. With this new partnership, DoorDash Kitchens helped out with operations, data and marketing power.”

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