Appetizing Prospects: Uber Founder Takes Aim At South Korea’s Shared Kitchen Market | 6/27/2019 | Staff
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SEOUL (Reuters) – Chef Youm Jung-phil plans to close his restaurant in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district this month, worn down by the rising cost of labor and rent as well as declines in the number of customers eating in.

Instead Youm, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry, has opted to sell his avocado burgers and bagels by delivery only, renting a 16.5 square meter kitchen space from Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens.

Day - Something - Youm - CloudKitchens

“I am anxious every day. I can’t sleep well because this is not something I have done before,” said Youm, who was approached by CloudKitchens.

“But the risks are low and I’ll have the opportunity to experiment with various menus without high cost,” he said, adding his rent will fall by roughly two-thirds.

World - No - Market - Food - Orders

The world’s No. 4 market for online food orders, South Korea punches far above its population size in terms of sheer numbers of restaurants and spending on food deliveries.

That, plus a near 30% rise in the minimum wage over the past two years, is helping drive a rapid shift to shared kitchens and delivery-only businesses, industry executives and investors say – a shift which threatens the traditional restaurant industry.

South - Korea - Market - Los - CloudKitchens

South Korea is the first overseas market Los Angeles-based CloudKitchens has entered under its own brand, people with knowledge of the matter said.

“That Kalanick and other investors are entering Korea speaks to its attractiveness as a market for cloud kitchens. It’s a big market and is growing faster than the U.S,” said Jimmy Kim, CEO of investment firm SparkLabs.

Gangnam - Alley - CloudKitchens - Outlet - May

Tucked away in a Gangnam back alley, CloudKitchens’ first South Korean outlet opened quietly in May with more than 20 separate kitchen spaces, sources said, declining to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media. Another 10 or more outlets are planned, six of them...
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