Reef ghost kitchens make food for major chains like Burger King and Wendy's — and some insiders say they are rife with problems

Reef ghost kitchens make food for major chains like Burger King and Wendy's — and some insiders say they are rife with problems
© Provided by Business Insider Employees work at a Reef Kitchen in Boston. Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

  • SoftBank-backed Reef Technology operates hundreds of ghost kitchens around the US.
  • The ghost kitchen chain has partnered with top fast-food giants like Burger King and Wendy’s.
  • Insider spoke with 18 Reef insiders about the rapidly expanding company.

Insiders say Reef Technology, a chain of ghost kitchens, has faced operational chaos as it raced to expand.

The Softbank-backed company operates hundreds of ghost kitchens in parking lots across the US. In its mobile trailers, which Reef calls “kitchen vessels,” employees are tasked with preparing food for delivery orders. Reef has signed deals with major chains like Burger King, Wendy’s, and TGI Fridays.

Insider interviewed 18 former Reef insiders at varying levels of the company, from cooks to regional managers. In Houston and San Francisco, ex-employees told Insider about “fireballs” that burst from stovetops within the kitchen vessels. A former market director in Texas said the flaming hazards kept happening because the kitchens lacked the proper shutoff valves.

Reef ghost kitchens make food for major chains like Burger King and Wendy's — and some insiders say they are rife with problems
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“Our team was deadly afraid to work every day because they thought their face will get burned off,” the director said.

Another former manager told Insider that the kitchens, under the pressure of surging customer orders, faced issues with undercooked chicken that in one case prompted complaints from an Uber Eats representative.

“They sent us pictures,” the former manager said. “And the chicken was raw — like, clearly pink and red on the inside.”

Reef declined to comment on any specific cases. 

 “The allegations being made against Reef from unnamed sources are misleading and nothing more than an attempt to damage the company’s reputation,” the company said in an email.

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