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Local Kitchens brings micro food hall concept to Huntington Beach

Customers order lunch from the menu at Local Kitchens in Huntington Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)
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Customers have a plethora of choices when they step into Local Kitchens.

That’s exactly the point of the micro food hall, which opened its first Southern California location in Huntington Beach late last month.

The Local Kitchens building can actually be seen as seven restaurants in one, as food can be ordered for dine-in, pick-up or delivery from Baby’s Badass Burgers, Backyard Bowls, Chica’s Tacos, Locali, SAJJ Mediterranean, Sushirrito and Hanchic.

The Bay Area-born company was started two years ago during the coronavirus pandemic by Jon Goldsmith, Andrew Munday and Jordan Bramble. Goldsmith is the firm’s chief executive.

Omar Flores makes a Geisha Burrito from Sushirrito at Local Kitchens on Monday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Goldsmith and Munday, who were early employees at food delivery service DoorDash, saw the business challenges that local restaurants faced and decided to create a new business model to help them thrive and bring their food to new markets.

“There’s a couple of angles to the concept,” said Munday, who serves as chief operating officer. “On the guest side, we’re really trying to bring the highest quality and most delicious food to the suburbs. We noticed a gap between the high-quality food that’s often found in cities and urban environments. As you get out to the suburbs, there’s often less selection and lower quality.

“The other component is mix-and-match. All of our stores have seven to 10 different brands, different cuisines. We’re actually serving SAJJ. We’re actually serving Sushiritto, the same as you would get it if you went directly to their single concept brick-and-mortar.”

A taco platter from Chica's Tacos at Local Kitchens in Huntington Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Orders can be placed on the company’s website or through the mobile app, or in store at one of two kiosks. Customers get text message alerts when their food is ready.

The menus are set up to be user-friendly, with customers able to search for vegetarian or vegan options easily, or different types of foods.

Though the food is authentic to each restaurant, it is prepared by Local Kitchens staff, said Matthew Rudofker, the company’s head of culinary and operations.

“We work with our partners to come up with the programming and the menu, then we’re executing those within our kitchens,” Rudofker said. “It’s our kitchen teams, it’s our staff. We’re training them. We hire them, we buy the food, we cook the food fresh to order whenever a guest places an order. Each one of our partners essentially has like a micro station within one of our kitchens. One of our kitchen team members will be trained to be proficient in executing their specific menu.”

Omar Flores makes a Geisha Burrito from Sushirrito at Local Kitchens in Huntington Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The restaurants that partner with Local Kitchens get enhanced visibility without many of the risks of opening their own business. That was appealing to a company like Backyard Bowls, according to its chief operating officer, Melissa Guillen.

Backyard Bowls, which serves products like acai bowls and smoothies, has eight locations in the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles areas and is expanding into Orange County for the first time.

“They reached out and we got to talking a little bit,” Guillen said. “At first I was unfamiliar with this concept. It’s very unique, it’s very new. But after a few conversations, it was really easy to see that it would be a great match ... We saw this as a really great opportunity for us to expand our brand.

“We’ve done the best we can and we’ve been successful. We were able to open two locations in 2021, which is great. But at the same time, this was such a great way to jump that growth a little bit more and get some new recognition in areas like Orange County.”

Sean Zilke and Allierose Nava order lunch from the menu at Local Kitchens in Huntington Beach on Monday.
Sean Zilke and Allierose Nava order lunch from the menu at Local Kitchens in Huntington Beach on Monday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Those with a late-night itching for a sushi burrito or hamburger will be happy to know that Local Kitchens in Huntington Beach is open from 11 a.m. until midnight every day. The company plans to continue to expand, opening a location in Lake Forest soon, Rudofker said.

The model also is appealing to families that might have children who are picky eaters or just a variety of people with eclectic food preferences.

“We would actually see moms and dads coming through our Lafayette store in Northern California, and they would be picking up three separate orders,” Munday said. “We learned, oh, they’re ordering through third parties. If they just order through our website or our mobile app, they can just place one order. It was crazy to see that parents are actually going through the trouble of placing three separate orders, just to fulfill the needs of their family.”

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