Uber Technologies Inc. is already delivering billions of dollars’ worth of food for local restaurants. Soon it could be taking over their kitchens, too. The ride-hailing giant is testing a program where it rents out fully equipped, commercial-grade kitchens to serve businesses selling food on delivery apps like Uber Eats.
Last year, Uber’s food delivery team began quietly leasing real estate in Paris, according to a person familiar with the project. It has been stocking the space with ovens, refrigerators, sinks, stoves and other appliances, and renting them out to restauranteurs planning eateries that cater exclusively to delivery customers, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the pilot program hasn’t been disclosed publicly.
While the “virtual restaurants” program is early, the undertaking would put Uber in direct competition with a business owned by its polarizing co-founder and board member, Travis Kalanick. The former Uber chief executive officer, who was ousted after a series of scandals, has largely tried to keep his second act under wraps. He hasn’t granted interviews to reporters since taking over a real-estate company, City Storage Systems. But as his startup expands its main business of renting kitchen space, it’s becoming harder to hide.