Local Kitchens, a food hall with nine locations in the Bay Area, opened its first Southern California branch in Huntington Beach last Thursday, October 27. The seven brands inside the newest outlet at 7151 Warner Avenue include Los Angeles restaurants Chicas Tacos and Hanchic; Bay Area imports SAJJ Mediterranean and Sushirrito; and Southern California brands Baby’s Badass Burgers, Backyard Bowls, and Locali.
Local Kitchens is a part of a new class of food halls that opened in the past year in Southern California including BLVD MRKT in Montebello, Blossom Market Hall in San Gabriel, and Northridge Eats in the Valley. What sets Local Kitchens apart, however, is that the restaurant owners aren’t operating their stalls or even preparing the food. “We’re running the kitchen completely on our own,” says Andrew Munday, COO and co-founder of Local Kitchens. “We train [employees] on the partners’ menus, and then we do all of the operations for them, so they’re essentially expanding without doing any of the work.” Munday previously worked at DoorDash and started the company in 2020 to help independently-owned restaurants expand into new markets.
“We’re looking for the top local brands — the highest rated and most loved by guests,” says Munday. “We’re generally looking for people who really want to grow, but are faced with the hurdles of finding a location, [and dealing with] the risk of staffing and managing.”
Melissa Guillen, the COO of Backyard Bowls, an acai bowl and smoothies chain with several locations in LA and Santa Barbara, was unfamiliar with the “micro” food hall business model initially, but signed on after learning more about how Local Kitchens could help expand the brand. “It’s almost like a hybrid franchise model and that was really attractive to us because we are a privately owned company,” says Guillen. “We have eight locations and are looking to grow more.”
When a restaurant gets brought into the fold, its owners and chefs train Local Kitchens’ staff on specific menus, recipes, and ingredients, while having to invest “little to no money” in the space, says Munday. Local Kitchens covers the cost of operations, along with build-outs and expansion; revenues are split among the restaurant owners and Local Kitchens.
While traditional food halls are lined with numerous vendor stalls, at Local Kitchens there’s just one central counter to order from. This setup allows diners to pick and choose from all available menus in one fell swoop. (Diners can also place orders using Local Kitchens’ online system.) This format makes it easier to meet the needs of individual tastes among groups of diners; it’s possible to order a salmon poke sushi burrito from Sushirrito, a bulgogi bowl from Hanchic, and a chicken shawarma wrap from SAJJ Mediterranean all at once and under one tab at Local Kitchens.
Customers can pick up their food, have it delivered, or dine inside the 2,400-square-foot space with indoor and outdoor seating. The minimalist interior features light brown wooden counters — one for ordering off tablets and another for picking up food — set against an off-white backdrop.
There are plans underway for more Local Kitchens throughout Southern California, including one in Lake Forest and another in Redondo Beach. “This is a really unique opportunity for brands to expand across the country into other cities and states,” Munday says. “And with all the Southern California brands, I’m thinking, ‘Can we bring them to Northern California?’”
Local Kitchens is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.