Turkish entrepreneur Alp Franko had one goal when he moved to Miami: to operate a string of successful restaurants. His mind was never set on Michelin-starred establishments. Instead, he wanted to offer diners food so accessible they could eat it anywhere at any time of the day.
So Franko created the Local Culinary. This downtown Miami ghost kitchen — modeled after the virtual eateries he became familiar with while spending time in California — is a delivery-only service that operates without a dining room or waiters.
“Our focus is on the process and product,” says Franko, who oversaw the operations of restaurants, lounges, and beach clubs in Europe before creating a London-based private-equity fund to invest in his dream.
He says the Local Culinary debuted on Grubhub in May with two food concepts and in just a month grew to eight culinary options. Currently, his ghost kitchen offers 18 menus comprising more than a hundred items for delivery through Grubhub, Postmates, UberEats, and DoorDash.
At the 1,300-square-foot kitchen in downtown, an executive chef prepares the meals and oversees a staff of 11. Because the speed of delivery is key to the process, meals are planned to take about 30 minutes to reach customers within ten miles of the preparation hub.
Each concept has a name, so hungry Miamians perusing UberEats for a meal might be intrigued by chicken wings from Dirty Fingers or a baked tuber from Hot Potato.
Packaging, Franko says, was created to forge a connection with customers that can get lost with the absence of a dining room. Instead of receiving their order in a plain paper bag, diners get personalized stickers, candy, and wacky trinkets with each dish to enrich the experience. “You can go online and order a burger from anywhere now,” he says. “A more personalized service can make all the difference when ordering out.”
Food items range from pizza to Asian-influenced bowls to gyros and are available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Chef Burger prices range from $7.99 to $14.99; carbonara pasta from Mama Roma costs $14.95; and black shrimp bao buns from the Asian concept Shu Shu run $12.55.
Desserts such as key lime pie ($6.55) and New York cheesecake ($5) are available from several of the concepts. Drinks include San Pellegrino orange limonata ($3.50), V8 juice ($3.99), and ginger ale ($3.50).
Franko considers ghost kitchens to be more profitable than virtual spinoffs of brick-and-mortar restaurants because they require less overhead. The restaurateur won’t disclose the influx of delivery orders or financial information, but he says that the business in downtown Miami is over capacity and that he’s set to open a ghost kitchen in Aventura next month, followed by others in Coral Gables and Boca Raton. Beyond delivery, the company is planning pop-up restaurant experiences, but there’s no retail presence on the horizon.
Find menus for Local Culinary concepts on food delivery apps through a search for these names:
- The Chef Burger — burgers made with prime ingredients
- Chicks — all things chicken, from fried to grilled, burgers, and wings
- Dirty Fingers — elevated burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, fries, and other items
- El Taco Loco — one-of-a-kind tacos
- Hey! Burger — American burgers
- Hot Dog Station — fun twists on America’s favorite classic
- Hot Potato — combinations of the most popular root vegetable
- Mama Roma — Italian cuisine
- Mr. Cheeseburger — cheeseburgers and fries
- Noodle House — ramen and Japanese comfort food
- Pasta Mania — pasta
- Pita Shop — Mediterranean bites
- Pizza Maria — pizza
- Salad Station — protein-based and vegetarian salad options
- Shu Shu — Asian-inspired dishes such as lettuce wraps, noodles, pad thai, and spring rolls
- The Green Kitchen — nutrient-dense fare made with fresh ingredients
- This Is Gyros — modern interpretations of classic Greek dishes
- Yoko Bowl — flavors of Asia and Hawaii
The Local Culinary. 100 S. Miami Ave., Miami; thelocalculinary.com.