StockHouse Media –
A Savvy Investment in the “Next Generation of Restaurant Franchising through Ghost Kitchens”
Interview by Dave Jackson, StockHouse, July 8, 2021
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Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, practical, alternative solutions to in-restaurant dining have been growing into a huge economic boom. Case in point ghost kitchens – sometimes called a virtual or cloud kitchen – a restaurant without a dining room, operating strictly for delivery.
JustKitchen Holdings Corp. (TSX-V.JK, OTCMKTS: JKHCF, Forum) is an operator of ghost kitchens specializing in the development and marketing of proprietary and franchised delivery-only food brands. It features advanced food preparation taking place at larger or virtual ‘Hub’ kitchens, with final meal preparation done at smaller ‘Spoke’ kitchens located in areas with higher population densities.
The company combines this operating model with online and mobile application-based food ordering fulfilled by third-party delivery.
Stockhouse Media’s Dave Jackson caught up with company CEO and Co-Founder Jason Chen to get shareholders and investors completely up-to-date with all things JustKitchen!
SH: To start with, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the history of the company?
JC: We started in December 2019.I grew up in Canada and sort of relocated back to Taiwan in 2014. That is whenI got involved in the F&B business, the food and beverage business. I was initially justan investor in a company that owns 28 restaurants across Taiwan,China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I, later on, became more involved and was invited to join the board and now I’m the vice-chairman of that company. That’s where I kind of gotmy first taste of the food and beverage business and learned sort ofwhat economics it needs to be profitable. Then it was shortly from therewe got to studying the ghost kitchen segment and noticingthe erosion of the diningbusiness as far back as 2014 and that’s the spawn of the idea for JustKitchen.
SH: Can you update our investor audience and your JustKitchen shareholders on any new company developments, especially in the wake of COVID-19?
JC: Of course. We have been building steadily since March 2020. We’ve been growing at an average of one new kitchen every month. Right now we’re at 18 kitchens in Taiwanand opening our first kitchen next week in Hong Kong. With COVID,this businesshas been growing, as I mentioned sort of double-digit online delivery platform, consumer food ordering since 2014 but propelled in 2020. Unfortunately, it’s causeda lot of businesses tocease to operate. Space availability became a big advantage for us. We’re able togain access to a lot of leases, a lot of kitchen spaces for us. That’s certainly one development.Last year in Taiwan, it was very fortunate, we were basically lockdown-freewhile the rest of the world was in lockdown, but this yearthere have been flare-ups with COVID. Restaurants were closing down this year in Taiwan. We’re able to pick up a lot of spaces or go into a lot ofcollaborations with big businesses thatwant to utilize their empty spacesand at the same time, let their employees feel that they’restill gainfully employed, andit keepstheir staff going andtheir staff morale high. That’s whata little bit of contributionwe’ve been able to contribute to here with theshutdowns and obviouslywith dining enclosures a lot of restaurant brands are reaching out to usto join ourdelivery platform.
That’s something that’s taken off and, you know,we trytopick and choose the right brands that are fitted to our business strategy for our expansion and our growth strategy. That’s been adevelopment that’s happening a lotduring COVID. We primarily do hot food delivery, but we have a vertical in our business called JustMarket as well and that’s a grocery type of delivery. We have about 120 SKUsof items in JustMarket and that’s kind of taken off over the last two monthswhile there have been some closures. The business has really, really propelledfrom the wake of COVID, unfortunately for the situation, butit’s pushed our business ahead…