A female-owned, ghost kitchen space opened in New York City last month with the goal of uplifting small businesses and, ultimately, creating a club of ghost and commissary kitchens for restaurants across the country.
Co-founders Camilla Opperman and Samantha Slager wanted to create a space for food entrepreneurs that was more than just a ghost kitchen but a place for community. So, they created Nimbus to be a commercial kitchen with front-of-house space for cooking demonstrations, events or catering at a reasonable price.
“We are so excited to open our doors and bring a new, female-led modern and collaborative approach to on-demand kitchens to life. We now more than ever realize the need to support the next generation of chefs and restaurants through fair, equitable and most importantly, functional spaces that will help entrepreneurs succeed in this incredibly challenging industry,” said Opperman and Slager.
Nimbus was created in response to the more expensive and elite ghost kitchens in New York City with waiting lists or specific requirements for entry, the partners said. The caliber of commissary kitchens was dismal, in Opperman and Slager’s opinions.
“Of course, hourly rental models have been around for like 30-plus years, but I wasn't super excited about how rundown they were and how operationally inefficient they were,” said Opperman.
Photo: Nimbus co-founders Camilla Opperman and Samantha Slager.
Both rent-by-the-hour and permanent ghost kitchen spaces are available at Nimbus. The cost structure breaks down to $20 per hour for the prep-only kitchen and $35 per hour for the shift-kitchens with a 20-hour minimum per month for both. The Nimbus model also allows businesses to use a convenient online dashboard to book kitchen time, rent storage space, pay invoices, and store permit and insurance information, according to the company.
“I was blown away by the whole ghost kitchen industry and the idea that half the time I’m ordering delivery, I hadn’t realized I was ordering from a ghost kitchen,” said Slager. “Why, as the consumer, should we not know where our food is coming from?”
That led to the front-of-house aspect of the business. Opperman and Slager view this space — to be used for events, cooking demonstrations, chef interactions — as a bridge between ghost kitchens and restaurants, without the expensive fees.
The front-of-house space isn’t quite a restaurant, but it gives the business a brick-and-mortar presence where customers can interact with the brands at Nimbus, as well as other brands renting the space.
“Unveiling our windows the other day and having our neighbors walk up and knock on our door was an extremely special experience. We feel like we're interacting with the community, which is just something that no other [ghost kitchen] promised that we toured or kitchen that we've seen,” said Opperman.
Nimbus also offers in-store pickup (to eliminate the question of “where am I ordering food from?”) and has a small seating space for those who place an order to-go but want to eat at Nimbus.
One of the residents of the three more-permanent ghost kitchens include Brooklyn’s Roberta’s Pizza — the first time NYC delivery is being offered for this brand. The other spaces are rented 24 hours, seven days a week, allowing a bakery to occupy the space in the early morning, a lunch business during the day and a late-night delivery spot to take the night slot.
Other Nimbus members include Quinn, a modern on-demand meal plan delivery service by Allie Fitzpatrick; and Alchemista, a bespoke food-and-beverage service offering food solutions that run the gamut from chef-driven corporate catering to food lockers created by Christine Marcus. Also at Nimbus is the Black- and female-owned ready-to-drink batched craft cocktail delivery, retail and catering service Brooklyn Batched Cocktails by Gabriel Noble, who dreamed up her company after losing her job to COVID layoffs.
The certified Minority Woman Business Enterprise Munch Hours, created by Miss Niani Taylor, will also be operating out of Nimbus as a catering service providing delicious, healthy and nutritious meals to residents throughout the five boroughs of New York City in sustainable, eco-friendly packaging with the planet in mind.
“It goes against our ethos to say that we only want to that one particular type of member. We really see ourselves as being an option for all and able to accommodate all those different size [businesses],” said Opperman. “I do think something that's interesting is traditionally women in hospitality have had a harder time getting access to capital to actually build out their own spaces. And so, so much as we can be a solution for them that's capital-light.”
Within the next year, Nimbus plans to open two more New York City locations — one in downtown Brooklyn and another on the Upper West Side —with expansion to other markets in the next few years.
As a member of Nimbus, businesses would essentially have an all-access pass to work at any Nimbus space as the brand expands.
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