It was a disappointment, admits Martin. But she had already started looking for alternatives. “Something told me to prepare a plan B,” she says. “The dream was to go back to this place in San Pablo, but you know, maybe this wasn’t meant for us.”
Of course, opening in a ghost kitchen is not necessarily the ideal. Martin said the previously unnamed facility at 40 Adeline Street will be home to a variety of businesses, each with its own small kitchen area in the warehouse. There is no seating for customers; There isn’t even any signage for Flint’s outside the building – the number of other restaurants sharing the space makes this impossible. Customers can order takeaway in person, but much of the deal is filtered through delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats. CloudKitchens, a company backed by Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, is one of a number of so-called Ghost kitchen or virtual kitchen, company who expanded their business during the pandemic – companies whose long-term impact on the hospitality industry will persist very open question.
Crystal Martin in her Alameda commercial kitchen during a pop-up of her flint. (HMTWNHERO)
CloudKitchens already operates a large ghost kitchen facility in Oakland: Oakland Food Hallin East Oakland. The North Oakland / Emeryville project has yet to be officially announced, although Martin believes construction is already in full swing. (KQED reached out to CloudKitchens to confirm the details of the new ghost kitchen but had received no response at the time of publication.)
Still, Martin is excited about the prospect of finally being able to turn the new Flint’s into a full-fledged business, having only sold their grill once every few months last year. When it opens in the ghost kitchen – around July 15, for now, Martin says – it plans to be open Thursday through Sunday to start, and eventually six days a week.
The rough-sanded joints were one of Flint’s trademarks. (Flint’s barbecue)
“It’s a good place to start,” says Martin. She doesn’t have to immediately take the risk of signing a five- or ten-year contract, and she can make sure the business is profitable and sustainable before making a major commitment. “We hope to have our own bricks and mortar one day,” she says.
Meanwhile, Martin has raised a little over $ 7,000 to open her restaurant through a GoFundMe campaign – money she allegedly used to deposit on her CloudKitchens on site. She hopes the restaurant’s followers will still consider getting involved: she still needs to purchase around $ 15,000 worth of equipment, including a new indoor smoker, before she can open her stores.