Willamette Week reports that "the Miami ghost kitchen company that scattered its trucks across Portland shortly before the pandemic and received over $1 billion from SoftBank and other overseas investors appears to have called it quits in Portland.
"Miami-based Reef Technology last week closed most, if not all, of its remaining ghost kitchens across the city."
The story notes that at its height in 2021, Reef "operated 26 'vessels' across Portland - trucks where its employees cooked food for delivery. Each vessel sold seven to 10 food brands, under names like Mr. Beast Burger, Sticky Wings and Man vs. Fries. Reef entered Portland in 2019 with grand plans to turn drab, underused parking lots into hyperlocal centers of commerce filled with electric vehicle-charging stations, ghost kitchens offering delivery-only food, and pop-up grocers. The idea was a utopian one: create micro-communities so that no city dweller need walk more than four or five blocks to access all of the essentials."
- KC's View:
The story suggests that this is not one of those cases where Portland's troubled urban landscape was the main problem. In fact, it sounds like Reef was unable to maintain the contracts for the parking lots where it was parking its vans. No locations, no business. Though I'm sure that the unsettled social climate in Portland didn't help.
I continue to believe that the ghost kitchen model is one with real potential, and it would be a mistake to dismiss it just because of some places and some companies where it does not work. Some concepts just need to marinate longer than others.