Inside Moonrise Izakaya on W. 98th Street and Amsterdam Avenue— owner Jacob Poznak is busy in the kitchen. But he’s not cooking up something off his Japanese gastropub menu. He’s heating up dumplings that were made in a restaurant in Flushing, Queens — some 13 miles away
"We get an order, it prints out in the kitchen. Whoever is working in the kitchen that day will prepare the order and out the door in goes,” said Poznak.
The dumplings will be delivered to New Yorkers ordering them from City Dumpling on the GrubHub food app.
City Dumpling has no brick-and-mortar location. Instead, its food is prepared in the kitchens of a half-dozen restaurants around the city, including Moonrise Izakaya.
The arrangement gives the restaurants another source of revenue, to make up for some of the business lost because of the pandemic.
Poznak says it's allowed him to keep his entire staff - and even add employees.
“Having that revenue stream from lunchtime definitely helps pay some of the overheard that we have to have staff here to prepare for our nighttime shift,” said Poznak.
This kitchen sharing is made possible by a company called Kitch, which connects entrepreneurs and restaurants with excess commercial kitchen space.
Thanks to the pandemic, Kitch has about 50 available spaces right now -- in restaurants, hotels and catering businesses.
The service is especially suited to burgeoning restauranteurs who don’t want to get tied down with a lease for a restaurant space.
“You can spend not a lot of money, not a lot of time to get into a market, to start selling. That’s your front-end, your ability to make money and like push out a concept to see if it works,” said Daniel Unter, the CEO of Kitch.
These so-called "Ghost Kitchens" have been criticized by City Council members — who held a hearing last year. Critics say it allows tech companies to make money at the expense of traditional restaurants.
Unter disagrees — he says it's helped vulnerable businesses keep their doors open this past year.
He believes the kitchen-sharing concept could permanently transform the restaurant landscape by creating more virtual restaurants, like City Dumpling.