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Saturday, 13 March 2021

Ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sparks mayhem with his new ghost kitchen start-up which lets restaurants share cooking space as neighbors complain delivery drivers are causing traffic and taking up parking spaces

 Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has caused uproar with his new ghost kitchen start-up on a Chicago street where residents say his drivers are causing traffic and other staff are flouting COVID-19 rules. 

Kalanick's latest venture is Cloud Kitchens, a Saudi-funded business that lets restaurants share kitchen space for delivery and take-out orders, like a co-working space for hospitality. 

Over the last year, the company has bought 50 spaces across the US and it is continuing to grow.

But in Chicago, residents at one location have complained that the business is ruining their prized neighborhood. 

They claim that the sudden rush of drivers from UberEats and DoorDash is causing congestion, and that the cooks who work in the kitchens are stealing their parking spaces.

They also allege that parking staff who have been hired by Cloud Kitchens have been shouting at the patrons of other local businesses, without wearing masks, which breaks COVID-19 rules. 

Now, neighbors say they are afraid about how much worse it will become and local politicians fear Kalanick - who was left Uber after a year of scandal and amid widespread criticism of his brash, bullish approach to start-ups - is doing the same thing with his new business. 


Cloud Kitchens has seen a sudden boom in success thanks to stay-at-home orders across the country which drove many people to order more food delivery and take-out. 

The kitchen in Chicago is only half-full just now. 

'Knowing where this neighborhood was and where it's going is so deeply troubling. 

'To see these big giants come in, and not only come in but disrupt the neighborhood in such a way, it's so disheartening. You know this is going to happen elsewhere,' Kate Francini, the practice manager at Royal Treatment Veterinary Center across the street, told Business Insider. 

The concept of Cloud Kitchens is WeWork for the hospitality industry - restaurants share kitchens to pump out delivery and take-out orders which are then picked up by Uber Eats or DoorDash drivers

The concept of Cloud Kitchens is WeWork for the hospitality industry - restaurants share kitchens to pump out delivery and take-out orders which are then picked up by Uber Eats or DoorDash drivers 

The business attracted 160 complaints in March. 

Now, the alderman in the district where it is, says tensions have reached a 'boiling point' and that he is receiving complaints every day. 

'It's been a very challenged relationship with Cloud Kitchens themselves. 

'I can't overstate how much of a problem it is.

'We, to date, have not found Cloud Kitchens to be a proactive partner when it comes to managing these problems,' Matt Martin said.

Other local politicians say the model is 'disruptive' to small towns across America. 

'This is a very disruptive business model. 

'To barrel into a neighborhood unilaterally with some sense of entitlement because it's a free market — you may have the law on your side, you may not, but you certainly won't have neighbors and elected officials on your side,' Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said. 

The Chicago Cloud Kitchen hired traffic 'directors' who, according to other business owners, 'harassed' customers as they entered. 

The location in Chicago where neighbors say Kalanick's business is causing mayhem

The location in Chicago where neighbors say Kalanick's business is causing mayhem 

'We finally had one client say, "I don't know if I can come to you anymore." 

'That absolutely shattered me. Our patients are like babies; they don't have a voice. 

'They get scared, and they're skittish when you have drivers sitting around in their cars, smoking on the sidewalk waiting for food to get picked up. 

'It's intimidating and nobody deserves to be intimidated in their neighborhood,' Heal Veterinary Clinic manager Vicki Karfias-Douvlis said. 

Cloud Kitchens hit back at the complaints, saying in a statement that they had created jobs around America.

'With restaurants under duress during the pandemic, Cloud Kitchens is proud to have given food entrepreneurs a badly needed opportunity to keep their businesses open and their employees working. 

'Unfortunately, Alderman Martin is more interested in the gentrification of his ward than he is in saving and creating jobs for people in the restaurant industry whose livelihoods have been at stake over the past year,' Deidra Suber, who oversees operations, told DailyMail.com. 

She added that they met with the councilman multiple times in 2020 and 2021 to try to address his concerns. 

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