FaveKitchens brings favorite family-owned restaurant dishes to Mercer Island

February 24, 2022 | by Alana Al-Hatlani

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A new red logo featuring a spatula recently appeared on the doors at what used to be Mo’s Pizza and Wine Dive. The space reopened on Wednesday, February 23rd, as a multi-concept ghost kitchen, the second in the Seattle area from food tech startup, FaveKitchens. However, Mo’s isn’t gone for good: it will live on among a handful of local restaurants cooking out of the space for pick-up, dine-in, and delivery across Mercer Island.

With its Mercer Island location, FaveKitchens brings the island easy access to more Seattle-area restaurants – in total and in a single order. Its model supplies both physical kitchen space and a digital delivery platform for family-owned restaurants trying to compete in today’s takeout boom, giving them an additional location with less overhead. The shared-space model allows the company and customers to food from multiple restaurants in a single order.

Although it seems like a startup born out of the pandemic, founder Praveen Akula started working on it as part of a class assignment while earning a certificate in business administration at the University of Washington in 2019. By June the following year, FaveKitchens launched in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood – just as the pandemic accelerated the market for takeout and delivery. Unlike the food delivery giants already on the market, FaveKitchens’ goal was to work with mom and pop restaurants, instead of against them. Now, after almost two years, it opens its second location on Mercer Island.

Mo’s Pizza gets a second life on Mercer Island inside the new FaveKitchens

Like most food delivery services, FaveKitchens works on commission, charging a restaurant for every order delivered. But the FaveKitchens fee, determined by each restaurant’s needs, covers more than just delivery and the ordering platform: it provides commercial kitchen space and includes much of the restaurant’s overhead. Rent, build-out costs, and business permits are huge undertakings for small businesses, and FaveKitchens allows them to outsource much of that.

“What we are left with is zero overhead, zero headaches,” says Quyen Phan, founder of Vinason Pho Kitchen. Phan already has four brick-and-mortar locations in the greater Seattle area and is partnering with FaveKitchens to bring his pho to Mercer Island. He pays a set fee that covers delivery, rent, maintenance, and the light and gas bills. “My job is to simply provide the food and the people who cook the food.”

A shared dishwasher helps all of the restaurants – a significant benefit in a time when many places struggle to find enough employees – and FaveKitchens staff packages the food for delivery, cutting down on labor costs for individual restaurants. Dine-in customers order via kiosks and are served by a robot, while a self-service beer and wine wall is coming in the next few weeks. 

Signage of participating restaurants

Akula likens it to Amazon Marketplace. “Anyone can sell a product on Amazon. They own the product, but they distribute it through Amazon, a third-party seller – that’s us.” FaveKitchens provides a digital marketplace where, not unlike the giant retailer, customers can purchase a variety of products in a single order. In this case, that’s pizza, tacos, and cake for dessert, all delivered and fulfilled by FaveKitchens, but made by Mo’s Pizza, La Chingona Tacos, and All-Purpose Cake Co, respectively. “Their product is already popular in their area,” says Akula of the participating restaurants. “All we are trying to do is give them the opportunity to scale and expand.” 

The collaborative nature of FaveKitchens offers islanders access to restaurants from all over the Eastside and beyond, quickly delivered or enjoyed nearby in Mercer Island Town Center. This newcomer to the neighborhood might have an unfamiliar logo on the door but has familiar faces from local restaurants inside.

Learn more and place an order at: www.favekitchens.com