Just how many restaurant concepts can fit under one roof? Two food businesses new to the Sacramento region are attempting to find out.
At The Line, which co-founder Kamiar Nejad describes as a “virtual food hall,” more than half a dozen tenants occupy a suite of 200-square-foot kitchens from which they prepare takeout-only meals available for pickup by diners or delivery drivers at their East Sacramento location. The Line is currently home to to-go kitchens for Kru restaurant and Kizuna by Binchoyaki as well as vendors selling everything from Chinese dumplings to Mexican tortas. Customers enjoy the convenience of ordering from multiple kitchens on a single tab, solving the conundrum of what to do when one person in a party is craving sushi but another has a hankering for a Cuban sandwich. “We provide a service for people looking for a convenience factor,” says Nejad. Moving takeout business to a separate location also takes the pressure off of brick-and-mortar restaurants that don’t have the capacity to fulfill a high volume of to-go orders.
At Local Kitchens, which was founded by DoorDash veterans and has locations in Davis, Roseville and Granite Bay, the concept is slightly different: Established restaurants license their recipes to the company, which hires culinary teams to prepare dishes from multiple eateries in a single kitchen. Customers can order off several menus at once—including tikka masala burritos from Curry Up Now, a barbecue bacon burger from The Melt and Christina Tosi’s famous pie from Milk Bar. Co-founder and COO Andrew Munday says the experience of dining at Local Kitchens “reminds me of Thanksgiving,” where everyone gets to sample a little of everything.
Arguably the main drawback to these newfangled versions of a food court is that they lack the charm and personal touches of a traditional restaurant. They are built for an efficient grab-andgo experience, not lingering. “That’s probably where we have the most room for improvement in our journey,” admits Munday. “We’ve been so focused on getting the food right. I think we can do a better job of making it more comfortable and homey.”
Nejad says his team plans to add a beer garden with fire pits and other amenities next door to The Line so that diners have an inviting spot to gather. “We see that there’s a need for more ambience.”
Nevertheless, the food hall model has been a boon to Nash & Proper chef and co-owner Cecil Rhodes, who has a presence at both The Line and Local Kitchens. The set up allows his brand of hot chicken sandwiches to reach more diners without overextending him in terms of labor and other expenses. “In the beginning with Local Kitchens, the idea of letting someone else make my recipes was hard, but seeing how they could scale the business with more manpower and more money has been a blessing,” says Rhodes. “It’s a really good partnership.”