exits

Kitchen United CEO Jim Collins exits ghost kitchen company

Kitchen United, a pioneer in the emerging ghost kitchen space, announced Wednesday the departure of CEO Jim Collins, who played an instrumental role in developing the company’s string of rent-a-kitchen facilities in major U.S. markets.

He left to focus on personal endeavors, the Pasadena, Calif.-based company said. Michael Montagano, the company’s former chief financial officer and treasurer, has been named CEO. Chief Marketing Officer Joy Lai has taken over the role of chief operating officer. 

She and Montagano will work together to shepherd the company through its next round of growth, where demand is at an all-time high for its ghost kitchen facilities. Since the beginning of the year, volume at its centers, on a monthly basis, has increased 400% to 500%, Montagano told Nation’s Restaurant News in a phone interview this morning.

team-joy-lai.jpgJoy Lai

With heightened demand among the industry for ghost kitchen spaces, Kitchen United has a wait list of restaurants looking for space at one of its facillities. The company has been growing at its own pace since the first Kitchen United opened in Pasadena in 2018. The pandemic only escalated demand for its services from both consumers and operators, said Montagano, who has been CEO for two weeks.

“We think there’s a lot of habit forming behavior over the last six months and that will continue in the future,” he said.

Beyond Pasadena, Kitchen United has locations in Chicago, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Austin, Texas.  

In 2021, Montagano said the company is looking to enter New York City, expand locations in Texas and Northern California, specifically the Bay Area. 

The ghost kitchen space has been growing for