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Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.

The Wall Street Journal's Eliot Brown looked into Reef Global, a ghost kitchen company that has been dealing with a variety of issues.

  • They include three big fires, one of which seriously injured a cook to the point where she can no longer work.
  • Reef has also been dealing with problems connecting to local utilities, shutdowns due to regulatory violations, and higher-that-expected operational costs for such necessities as generators and water delivery, Brown heard from former executives and managers.

What to watch: Ghost kitchen companies still have obstacles to overcome before they become the cash cows Silicon Valley venture capitalists are betting they will be.

Go deeper

Dec 10, 2021 - Podcasts

The hidden costs of instant grocery delivery services

Online grocery delivery is a booming business thanks to the pandemic, but there are hidden costs to 10- to 15-minute grocery delivery, including a toll on how urban space is used.

Host Erica Pandey discusses what it takes to make these services possible with Greg Lindsay, a senior fellow at MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab.

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.