The owners of DOSA, Anjan and Emily Mitra, say they were contemplating an expansion based on the model of satellite "ghost kitchens" since long before the pandemic shutdown of the Bay Area's restaurant scene. But now as delivery is the name of the game for many restaurants that have remained operational, they say this may be the perfect time to try it out.
As Eater reports today, the Mitras are opening a commissary kitchen in South San Francisco that will serve as the central meal-prep hub for a regional DOSA delivery operation. It's being supported by Virtual Kitchen Co., a startup launched last year by some former Uber executives, and the plan is to have Dosa meals delivered from the central hub to 20 delivery-only kitchens around the Bay Area. At these ghost kitchens, the food will be reheated and then packaged for delivery within the brief timeframe people have come to expect from the likes of Grubhub, Caviar, DoorDash, and Postmates.
The business model allows a well regarded restaurant like DOSA to keep one or two brick-and-mortar locations, but avoid the costly overhead that would come with more physical expansion — while also scaling the business and expanding the potential delivery footprint.
"We plan to keep our restaurants for sure, but we really have to be focused on the things that keep the Dosa brand alive," says Emily Mitra, speaking to Palo Alto Online.
Those restaurants include DOSA's flagship Fillmore Street restaurant, as well as dosa by DOSA in Oakland. (Dosa's 15-year-old original location on Valencia Street closed its doors last fall.) But it remains unclear when sit-down restaurants will be able to open in the state of California, or whether the take-out only model might be all we have for an extended period of time.
Look for other restaurant groups to potentially consider this model as move forward — even though just two months ago restaurant owners were ranting to City Hall about how much they hated ghost kitchens and delivery apps.