Feb. 10, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A virtual food hall that houses nearly two dozen eateries opened in Sunnyside late last year.
The facility, called Sunnyside Eats, opened at 40-05 Skillman Ave. and over 20 different eateries operate out of the space, according to the company’s website. The various eateries offer a wide variety of food options, which are only available for take-out or delivery. There are no on-premises dining.
The virtual food hall, or ghost kitchen, is located on the border of Sunnyside and Long Island City, situated near Lou Lodati Playground.
There is an eclectic mix of businesses that operate out of the premises. The food types include Asian, Italian and American fare as well as comfort food and vegan cuisine.
Customers can go online or use food apps–such as Door Dash, UberEATS and GrubHub–to place orders from any of the eateries operating inside the facility. Residents can also order via a kiosk inside Sunnyside Eats. All orders are available for delivery or to-go only.
Sunnyside Eats is operated by CloudKitchens, a company that is run by Uber founder Travis Kalanick. The company operates several ghost kitchens throughout the U.S.
The operators of Sunnyside Eats say they provide an affordable option for restaurants–often start-ups–to prepare and sell their food. The space is a low-cost alternative to renting out a brick-and-mortar store at higher costs.
Sunnyside Eats has around 40 private kitchen spaces, according to Sandra Mathis, who operates a vegan eatery at the facility. Her business, called Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens, is a startup business like many at the facility.
Mathis said that her company has been leasing a 200 square foot kitchen at Sunnyside Eats since it opened in October. She previously operated out of a facility in Harlem where she had to share a large kitchen space with other business owners. She said the Sunnyside facility is more practical for her business needs since she has total control over her kitchen space.
Sunnyside Eats, Mathis said, provides her with a cost-effective way to sell her food while building a customer base in the neighborhood. Mathis hopes to open her own brick-and-mortar restaurant in the future.
Mathis said that business has been steady, although she is eager for people to learn more about the Sunnyside Eats facility. She said CloudKitchens has not been actively marketing the space since it opened.
“It’s been up to us to promote our business while we’re here,” Mathis said. She said that many of the businesses at Sunnyside Eats want the space to be marketed more.
Mathis’ eatery offers vegan soul food with influences from Jamaica and the American south. For instance, it offers rasta pasta, grits as well as spicey fried chicken and waffles.
Mathis said customers usually order from her company via food apps. She said many customers have walked in off the street to order, after inquiring about what the facility offers.
Some of the other eateries operating at the facility include Caffe’ Barocco, which offers a range of sandwiches made with Swiss Cheese called raclette. An eatery called Oconomi serves Japanese fare, Arepalicious Express offers authentic Colombian cuisine while The New York Waffle Company has a range of traditional Belgian waffles on its menu.
Opening hours at the facility vary between the different businesses.