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David Chang’s popular fried chicken restaurant Fuku has dropped partnership with ghost kitchen operator Reef technology and now works with the startup’s competitor, United kitchen.

Southern California-based Kitchen United on Wednesday announced a new partnership to expand the Chang’s Fuku brand nationwide. Fuku’s first ghost kitchen with Kitchen United opened on December 15 in Santa Monica, California.

Michael Montagano, CEO of Kitchen United, said the company is “honored to be chosen by Fuku and can’t wait to share it with our fellow Fuku fans across the country.”

Last week, Insider exclusively reported that Fuku had ended his partnership with Reef.

Fuku’s exit comes amid reports of operational chaos at Reef, a fast-growing ghost kitchen startup backed by SoftBank.

The company has raised $ 1.5 billion in venture capital and has entered into partnerships with national chains such as Wendy’s, Burger King and TGI Fridays.

Insider has previously reported on Reef’s health service violations, poor working conditions, and customer complaints about raw and undercooked food.

Multiple run-ins with health inspectors in New York, Houston, Detroit, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Austin, Texas, led Reef to temporarily shut down food trailers in those cities.

Last week, Insider obtained leaked emails and photos showing a cluster of customer complaints about raw and undercooked food from Reef mobile kitchens across the United States. The majority of complaints Insider reviewed were categorized as “undercooked food” from brands such as Fuku.

The same week, Fuku said he no longer worked with Reef.

Alex Munoz-Suarez, CEO of Fuku, said in a statement that Kitchen United shares Fuku’s “passion for executing a fast-to-market strategy while maintaining brand and kitchen operating standards. incredibly high ”.

Kitchen United calls its ghost kitchens food halls because consumers can come in and order.United kitchen

Kitchen United is a pioneer in the ghost kitchen space that includes Reef’s CloudKitchens and Travis Kalanick. Startups have different models, however.

Reef prepares food for brands under licensing deals, while Kitchen United rents kitchens from chains looking to expand their delivery footprint. CloudKitchens has a similar model to Kitchen United. Reef trailers are located primarily in parking lots, while Kitchen United trailers ghost kitchens are accessible to consumers and are similar to food halls. CloudKitchens also experimented with the food hall model.

Kitchen United’s first kitchen facility opened in 2018 in a retail Pasadena neighborhood. Since then, Kitchen United has expanded to nine locations across the United States, including Scottsdale, Arizona; two in Chicago; Austin, Texas; San José, California and New York. This year, the company expanded its facilities in New York after acquiring New York-based ghost kitchen operator Zuul.

Fuku started out as a secret fried chicken sandwich available at Chang’s famous Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City. He opened the first Fuku in 2015 in the East Village. Fuku will expand to new and existing Kitchen United locations across the country, including Texas and New York, where Fuku already operates traditional restaurants, the two companies said on Wednesday.

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