SOUTH AFRICA – Cape Town-based investor Silvertree Holdings has invested R5 million (US$0.34 million) in return for a majority stake in former OrderIn co-founder Heini Booysen’s new Darth kitchens business.

Also known as a “ghost kitchen”, “virtual kitchen” or “cloud kitchen”, Cape Town based Darth Kitchens is a delivery-only establishment that can only be accessed via food delivery apps like UberEats, Mr D and OrderIn.

Booysen confirmed that Silvertree has taken a 51% stake in Darth Kitchens, and that the investor plans to inject a further amount early next year, which Silvertree put at R30-million (US$2.05m).

Booysen left OrderIn about a year ago but confirmed that he still has a small stake in the business, which was founded by former Goldman Sachs associate Dinesh Patel in 2012 before Booysen joined as a director in 2018.

Booysen said the funding from Silvertree has been used to fit out a 400 square metre premises which previously served as a panel beating shop, off Bree Street in the city centre.

The funding will also serve as working capital and allow the startup to grow its current team — which currently stands at 20 permanent kitchen staff and five founding members (including two executive chefs who worked at some of South Africa’s best restaurants like The Test Kitchen and Thali).

Darth Kitchens kicked off with its first order in August 2019, after Booysen began working on the business in March 2019.

Those that use these apps will not see the name “Darth Kitchens”. Instead they will see the names of the business’s own five brands listed at restaurants. 

The brands are Buddy’s Burgers, Fluent (Health Bowls), Bagels Shmagels, Anvil Burger Co and Ringo’s NY Style Pizzeria.

Between 20% and 30% of the price that a food item is sold for on an app goes to the ordering app. 

But Booysen says he doesn’t see this as a major challenge, as he says the revenue his business gives up is in return for the marketing that these apps perform of his food brands.

Plans are underway to set up another dark kitchen in Rondebosch in Cape Town or Stellenbosch and also Johannesburg.