Austin: ‘Dark Kitchen’ Concept Planned for Former Baby Acapulco Site
Featured Photo (above): CloudKitchens, part of a real estate venture owned by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, proposes demolishing for the former Baby Acapulco in north Austin to build a commercial space for delivery-only kitchens. Image: Google Streets
by Edmond Ortiz
Austin (Travis County)–A so-called ghost kitchen, where meals are prepared for local food delivery services, is being proposed as part of a 15,665-square-foot project along Interstate 35 in north Austin.
City staff is reviewing a site plan for the project called CloudKitchens at 5610 Interstate 35 North, just south of U.S. Highway 290.
CloudKitchens redevelops physical space for restaurants to fulfill orders from food delivery apps, such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. CloudKitchens also equips client culinary ventures with business management software.
The new building would replace the 11,450-square-foot Baby Acapulco restaurant building that closed in 2018 and is slated for demolition. In its place, the developer proposes a 15,665-square-foot building.
CloudKitchens will have 40 commercial kitchens where different culinary businesses will be fully equipped to prepare their dishes for delivery. Each kitchen space will be available for lease. The new complex will also contain a processing center and a place for employees to take their breaks.
Other proposed improvements for the 1.6-acre site include about 51 parking spaces, a loading station for trucks, and infrastructure for water, wastewater and drainage. The project will also include widening of two existing access driveways to the southbound I-35 North service road.
An estimated cost was not given to the city, nor was there a construction schedule. The Austin office of North Carolina-based firm Kimley-Horn and Associates is handling engineering planning in the project.
The CloudKitchens facility would sit across Interstate 35 from Capital Plaza retail center. Image: City of Austin/Kimley-Horn & Associates
According to Travis County Appraisal District records, 5610 N IH 35 AUS LLC, a Los Angeles-based limited liabilty company, bought the former Baby Acapulco property in December 2018. The land currently has an assessed value of $3.67 million.
The LLC is linked to Diego Berdakin, a Los Angeles entrepreneur and a former investor in Uber.
CloudKitchens is a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based City Storage Systems LLC (CSS), a startup real estate firm in which former Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick bought a controlling interest in 2018. Berdakin founded CSS.
CSS specializes in converting distressed properties for tenants who wish to use the facilities for e-commerce or food/beverage delivery operations.
These dark kitchens are a relatively new concept. They are becoming a more cost-efficient option for food delivery apps, and for culinary entrepreneurs, such as startups who want to test their concepts and build their brand, and food truck owners who need commissary storage space.
CloudKitchens builds kitchen layouts that can be adapted to meet the needs of tenant clients. Kitchen sizes start around 220 square feet.
Elsewhere in Austin, company with a dark kitchen concept, Kitchen United, is scheduled to begin operations at 8023 Burnet Road while Hana Kitchens, a culinary incubator, is leasing space at 11190 Circle Drive.
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.