BC Business -Asian ghost kitchen operator with B.C. connection cooks up a new business model
Vancouver-raised entrepreneur Jason Chen co-founded JustKitchen, which plans to expand globally from its home base of Taiwan
Jason Chen is calling from Taipei, but he’s kind enough not to rub it in.
Unlike B.C. and most other places around the world, Chen’s native Taiwan has been virtually COVID-free since the pandemic took hold early last year. “We’ve been very fortunate here,” admits the co-founder, president and CEO of JustKitchen.
Taiwan never experienced a lockdown—just social distancing from March through June of 2020. “Then everything else more or less reverted back to normal,” says Chen, who grew up in Vancouver after moving there at age eight. “Being an island nation, I think the government reacted fairly quickly.”
As it turns out, COVID has also helped Chen’s latest business venture. JustKitchen is one of the recent crop of cloud or ghost kitchens, which prepare meals for delivery only. These so-called app-to-door food businesses cost less to run than traditional restaurants because they don’t need dining rooms or wait staff.
In the first such public offering anywhere, JustKitchen listed on the TSX Venture Exchange in mid-April. Its stock is now trading in the $1.40 range. “We realized it was a market that was emerging but coming up quickly,” Chen says of the IPO. “So we wanted to establish our brand, we wanted to get into building very quickly.”