Kitchen United Names Michael Montagano CEO as Jim Collins Departs

Kitchen United, a ghost kitchen industry leader, announced the appointment of Michael Montagano as Chief Executive Officer and newest member of the company’s Board of Directors following two years serving as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. Additionally, Joy Lai has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer from her previous position as Chief Marketing Officer.

“Over the past three years, we have built a solid foundation on which to grow. I am proud of what we accomplished in my years at Kitchen United, and can say without a doubt the Kitchen United team is the best that I’ve had the privilege to serve alongside. I know they will continue to achieve great success in the years ahead,” says former CEO Jim Collins, who departed the company to focus on personal endeavors.

“Michael is well positioned to continue to build upon Kitchen United’s industry leadership and help restaurant partners achieve optimal success,” adds David Krane, CEO and Managing Partner at GV. “He has been instrumental in growing the business and charting the course for the future, making him the ideal leader to advance the company into its next chapter of growth. Together with Joy, who has a deep understanding of consumer adoption and scaling businesses, we are confident the Kitchen United leadership team will achieve long-term success.”

Montagano joined Kitchen United as CFO in 2018, as an experienced executive with a proven track record of building and scaling venture-backed companies. He led capital formation initiatives for the company securing institutional financing partners including GV, Fidelity Investments, and G Squared, as well as strategic partners, RXR Realty, DivcoWest and Rich’s Food Products. Prior to Kitchen United, Montagano helped shepherd PowerFlex Systems from seed-stage to acquisition by a Fortune Global 100, Electricite de France (ENXTPA:EDF). He currently sits on the Board of Directors for Dog Haus World-Wide, one of the country’s fastest-growing national restaurant chains.

Montagano grew up in a restaurant family anchored by an Italian restaurant and neighborhood butchery founded by his grandparents. He received his MBA from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and his JD from Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law.

“I look forward to working closely with our exceptional senior leadership team and our entire board of directors,” Montagano says. “We believe strongly in the Company’s growth potential as we sharpen our focus on serving our clients and creating value for our stakeholders.”

In her new role as Chief Operating Officer, Lai oversees sales, marketing and operations at Kitchen United. She joined Kitchen United in 2019 bringing nearly two decades of experience driving growth for Enterprises and SMBs, including launching/scaling products, partnerships, and optimizing omni-channel strategies. She previously held strategic leadership roles at Internet Brands, The Wonderful Company and Bain & Company. Lai received a BS from the University of California, Berkeley, and a MS from Stanford University.

“Our team has built a burgeoning business by marrying deep experience in the industry with a passion for growing off-premise business for restaurant operators,” says Lai. “I look forward to

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Kitchen United CEO Jim Collins exits ghost kitchen company

Kitchen United, a pioneer in the emerging ghost kitchen space, announced Wednesday the departure of CEO Jim Collins, who played an instrumental role in developing the company’s string of rent-a-kitchen facilities in major U.S. markets.

He left to focus on personal endeavors, the Pasadena, Calif.-based company said. Michael Montagano, the company’s former chief financial officer and treasurer, has been named CEO. Chief Marketing Officer Joy Lai has taken over the role of chief operating officer. 

She and Montagano will work together to shepherd the company through its next round of growth, where demand is at an all-time high for its ghost kitchen facilities. Since the beginning of the year, volume at its centers, on a monthly basis, has increased 400% to 500%, Montagano told Nation’s Restaurant News in a phone interview this morning.

team-joy-lai.jpgJoy Lai

With heightened demand among the industry for ghost kitchen spaces, Kitchen United has a wait list of restaurants looking for space at one of its facillities. The company has been growing at its own pace since the first Kitchen United opened in Pasadena in 2018. The pandemic only escalated demand for its services from both consumers and operators, said Montagano, who has been CEO for two weeks.

“We think there’s a lot of habit forming behavior over the last six months and that will continue in the future,” he said.

Beyond Pasadena, Kitchen United has locations in Chicago, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Austin, Texas.  

In 2021, Montagano said the company is looking to enter New York City, expand locations in Texas and Northern California, specifically the Bay Area. 

The ghost kitchen space has been growing for a couple of years. But the sector has exploded with new concepts during the pandemic as restaurants turn to ghost, host and dark kitchens to serve delivery customers.

Montagano said Kitchen United welcomes the competition.

“We think there’s room for a lot of different [models] in the market. But we’re very confident in our business model,” he said.

The company’s kitchen facilities are designed to help established restaurant brands build off-premise business through delivery or catering. Many virtual restaurants also prepare food out of Kitchen United commissaries, including Canter’s Deli and Dog Haus.

The company’s 51 kitchens inside four centers host 40 brands ranging from independents to regional and national chains. Chick-fil-A, for example, is set up in Kitchen United’s Chicago facility. The chicken chain uses the facility to support a high volume of orders in the Chicago area. The quick-service c hain is exploring more opportunities with Kitchen United when it expands next year. 

Jollibee and Portillo’s also run delivery only operations out of the Chicago facility. 

Dog Haus, a regional chain from Southern California, is set up at three Kitchen United centers.

Besides working with well-known chains, Kitchen United also seeks out indepdentent restaurants with popular menus geared

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Garden-weeding robotics company hires iRobot cofounder as CEO

If Tertill, the garden-weeding robot made by a Billerica startup of the same name, didn’t already remind you of the Roomba vacuum, the company’s latest hire should leave no doubt about its designs on the home automation industry.

Tertill said Tuesday that it had hired as its chairman and chief executive Helen Greiner, who was co-founder and top executive at Roomba maker iRobot of Bedford. She later founded the drone maker CyPhy Works, before leaving that role to work for the US Army as an expert on robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence.

At Tertill, Greiner is reuniting with Joe Jones, who was instrumental in creating the Roomba and later created the Tertill. Grenier said she had been independently looking for opportunities for outdoor home robots and a conversation with Tertill executives wound up convincing her to join the company.

“It’s a really under-served space from a technology point of view, and that’s a great place to be as a startup,” she said. Greiner succeeds Linda Ystueta, who becomes Tertill’s chief operating officer.

The solar-powered, weatherproof Tertill uses a small trimmer to cut weeds as they emerge while tilling the soil with its wheels to prevent unwanted plants from sprouting and taking root. It sells for about $350.

Many companies have their eyes on doing for the outdoors what Roomba and its competitors have done to the interiors of their customers’ homes. IRobot is working on a robotic lawnmower, and several other companies have launched them — including Husqvarna, which Greiner said has made an early-stage investment of $1 million in Tertill.

Greiner, who will also take over as chairwoman of the company’s board, said she’s interested in other ideas for outdoor robotic applications, such as collecting leaves or clearing snow. But for now, she said she’d be focused on building a robust business to support a product that has shown some clear consumer interest.


Andy Rosen can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.

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Singapore Kitchen Equipment CEO, group senior sales manager, on bail amid graft probe, Business News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Catalist-listed Singapore Kitchen Equipment said on Sunday night (Sept 13) that its husband-and-wife founders Sally Chua Chwee Choo and Alan Lee Chong Hoe, as well as group senior sales manager Alvin Chiao Shan Ren, were interviewed by the authorities in a corruption probe.

Ms Chua is the group’s executive director and chief executive officer, while Mr Lee is an executive director.

Ms Chua and Mr Chiao are on bail in relation to investigations into offences under Section 6(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the group said in a regulatory update.

It added that their passports were surrendered to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Ms Chua, Mr Lee and Mr Chiao were interviewed by the CPIB on or about Sept 10 in connection with entertainment expenses and sales commissions relating to certain projects undertaken by Q’son Kitchen Equipment, a wholly-owned subsidiary.

The group, through Q’son, provides commercial and industrial kitchen solutions for the food and beverage and hospitality services industries. Ms Chua is also the managing director of Q’son.

Singapore Kitchen Equipment said the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed against Ms Chua, Mr Lee and Mr Chiao as at Sunday. Its nominating committee is of the view that the trio remain competent and it would be in the group’s best interests that they continue to discharge their responsibilities and duties in the operation of the group’s businesses.

Although it is presently not aware of any impropriety or offence committed by Ms Chua, Mr Lee and Mr Chiao, the board said it has appointed solicitors and an independent reviewer to, among other things, review the group’s internal processes and internal controls to further strengthen corporate governance.

Singapore Kitchen Equipment on Sunday requested to lift a trading halt called on Sept 11. The counter last traded at 9.8 cents on Aug 20.

Correction note: An earlier version of the article incorrectly reported that Alan Lee Chong Hoe instead of Alvin Chiao Shan Ren as being on bail and having his passport surrendered.  We are sorry for the error.

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RH CEO expects elevated demand for home decor to carry through 2021

  • “There’s clearly, you know, a consumer shift that’s happening and you know people are holed up at home,” RH CEO Gary Friedman told CNBC.
  • “We’re benefiting from some of that shift, and at the same time … our teams did a great job of kind of improvising adapting and overcoming,” he said in a “Mad Money” interview.
  • “I think there’s going to be some systemic shifts in spending that will last, I think, for the next year or two — could be longer,” he said.

RH CEO on capitalizing on shifts in consumer spending habits

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Demand for home goods is still on the up and up, based on the quarterly results published by home furnishings retailer RH.

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RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, posted a top- and bottom-line beat in its fiscal 2020 second-quarter report as the company capitalized on the stay-at-home environment, CEO Gary Friedman told CNBC’s Jim Cramer after the Corte Madera, Calif.-based company reported earnings.

“There’s clearly, you know, a consumer shift that’s happening and you know people are holed up at home,” he said in a “Mad Money” interview.

“We’re benefiting from some of that shift, and at the same time I’d say our teams did a great job of kind of improvising. adapting and overcoming.”

RH reported revenue of $709 million in the quarter ended Aug. 1, a 0.4% tick up from a year ago, but a turnaround from the 20% revenue decline the company saw in its first fiscal quarter. The company recorded profits of $4.90 per share, smashing the $3.41 estimate in Factset.

Core demand has improved exponentially month over month since the U.S. economy began its recovery from the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year that brought world commerce to a near halt. RH said that that demand was up 7% in May, more than 30% in both June and July, and up 47% in the month of August. Core business grew 44% through the first 10 days of September, the company said.

That trend, however, can be ephemeral, Friedman said. Long term, RH is looking to grow net revenue by 8% to 12% and adjusted net income by 15% to 20%. The company expects the increased spending on home decor will continue through 2021.

“I think there’s going to be some systemic shifts in spending that will last, I think, for the next year or two — could be longer,” he said.

“We’ll benefit from the shifts right now, but, you know, that’s not anything what I call strategic. We’ll make the most of what’s happening, but it really doesn’t affect our long-term vision or long-term strategy.”

Shares of RH surged more than 20% to $385.46 at Thursday’s close.

RH CEO talks record Q2 results, reconceptualizing the brand

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