Dog Haus will celebrate its 10th anniversary on October 20. As it reaches a new milestone, it continues to innovate through the use of virtual kitchens.
Kitchen Unified Mix Chief Financial Officer Michael Montagano introduced virtual or cloud kitchens to Dog Haus’ André Vener. The two met at a parent party for their first-grade children several years ago.
“Both of our kids go to Pasadena Polytechnic School and that’s where we met,” Vener says. “It happened to be two Pasadena Poly dads going to a parent party running into each other.”
The two discussed being “kind of in the restaurant business” and Montagano offered Vener a facility tour to see if he would want to join.
“He gave us a tour and then we thought about it for three months,” Vener said. “And then we heard about cloud kitchen and we decided it’s honestly going to be a big trend in our opinion.”
Once they investigated a bit further, Dog Haus decided to expand across the country with Kitchen United Mix.
“Wherever they open we will open,” Vener says.
Dog Haus partnered with Kitchen United Mix first in Chicago and Pasadena came third. They opened cloud kitchens in Chicago and Hollywood as well.
After meeting, Kitchen United Mix and Doug Haus decided to have offices on the same alleyway in Old Pasadena.
A virtual kitchen is a shared space for multiple restaurants to make food for delivery and have it available for customers all in one spot. Diners can choose what food from each restaurant they would like and get a whole meal delivered or to go.
Dog Haus has its employees and equipment in the facility along with its designated kitchen space but share a walk-in cooler, freezer and utilities.
“The big advantage is because, normally, you will sign a five-year or 10-year lease on a brick-and-mortar. You build it from the ground up and then you’re on the hook and hopefully it works,” Vener said.
“This is a little bit more of a conservative approach. We could be (signing a lease for) one or two years long. All you have to do is pay for the equipment, hire five people instead of 30 people and you give it a go.”
Kitchen United Mix or cloud kitchen owners hire the front staff and handle the construction process, so restaurants are ready to start selling as soon as possible.
“The Pasadena location doesn’t actually serve Dog Haus; it serves our other branch that we have,” Vener said.
Dog Haus’ Pasadena-based The Absolute Brands is a subhead for delivery at the virtual kitchens and primary Dog Haus locations. By using these virtual kitchen spaces, The Absolute Brands cook and deliver its food outside of a traditional restaurant.
Dog Haus isn’t listed on Kitchen United Mix’s website, but some of the dishes are like The Freiburger, Bad Mutha Clucka and Plant B as individual companies.
“Now when you are in Pasadena and order from one of those companies through one of the third-party deliveries, that will come out of our kitchen with our same products from our talented chefs and go to your house,” Vener said.
“We used our same high-end quality ingredients that are hormone-free, antibiotic-free, never ever added nitrates, clean food that we have there. It’s cool that we can even do this when this pandemic is happening. We were able to quickly pivot and do something differently and it ended up being a huge success.”
The Absolute Brand is available at 35 Dog Haus locations in 10 states for delivery only. Dog Haus has 50 locations in more than 10 states and is continuing to grow throughout the country.
“We are excited to be neighbors with Kitchen United and be one of the first pioneers in the space,” Vener said. “We believe that with delivery with them, we can expand our geographical footprint through our premise locations.
“We kind of strategically locate them in different parts of the country to test the market and test the cuisines.”
Vener said if it’s a hit, they could launch traditional restaurants in the area because they’ve tested the market.
The surge of virtual kitchens will continue as long as delivery is the primary way for people to get food during the pandemic.
“Delivery and third-party delivery is so important especially now,” Vener said. “I can’t imagine anybody after what happened with this pandemic that at least every household had used a third-party delivery once in their life. I think the third-party delivery space is going to continue to grow and we got a big boost with COVID-19.”
Kitchen United Mix