Rob Mallory, sales and marketing rep, inside a mobile kitchen built in Surrey by Apollo Custom Manufacturing. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

‘Ghost kitchen’ business with REEF fuels Surrey food truck manufacturer

'It's a huge contract for us,' says Apollo Custom Manufacturing rep

A Surrey-based maker of food trucks has partnered with a Florida-based company that aims to put “ghost kitchens” in parking lots across North America.

Mobile kitchens built in Newton by Apollo Custom Manufacturing will be parked for access only by food-delivery services such as Skip the Dishes and DoorDash, not the general public.

REEF Technology‘s so-called “modular vessels” are already operating in Toronto and three other Canadian cities, with Vancouver-area parking lots to come, in line with the company’s recent purchase of Impark.

The hub concept makes use of otherwise empty or underused parking lots in urban areas. Fully functional, restaurant-grade kitchens roll in to make food to meet the increasing demand of delivery services, in areas where such meals might not be available from certain “brick and mortar” eateries.

“We’re doing something no-one’s done before with these delivery-only vessels,” said Sophia Cote, regional public affairs rep for REEF, billed as “the largest operator of neighbourhood kitchens and urban logistics hubs in the United States and Canada.”

For Apollo, “huge” is the REEF contract to build custom trailers, according to Rob Mallory, the company’s sales and marketing rep.

“They’ve asked us for two test kitchens, and we’re going to build those starting this week,” Mallory said Wednesday (June 9). “We’ve just been told that they want another 20 trailers. It’s a huge contract for us, and the numbers they’re doing in the States are just unbelievable.”

The trailers will be 28 feet long and loaded “with a lot of equipment that’s very versatile, because they have to be,” Mallory said. “I was told by a REEF representative that they do up to five brands per trailer.

“They want everything ASAP and we do too,” he added, “but due to COVID we are having some supply issues, including metal. We’ll have two trailers to them in the next couple of months, and then from there, if we get the next PO (purchase order), we’ll probably do two or three a month from that point forward.”

• RELATED STORY, from March 30: Food trucker motors on with drive-thru festival.

Apollo has been in the food truck manufacturing business for close to two decades. The company’s story is told in a five-minute video posted to Youtube.

“We make carts, trailers and trucks and also do some service work on pre-built trucks that come to us,” Mallory noted.

“We’ve been building trailers and trucks like this for a long time now, and we believe our quality is the best in Canada, if not North America, and we’re thrilled to have them (REEF) as partners,” he added.

Apollo’s manufacturing plant, at the corner of 80th Avenue and 128th Street, has remained busy during the pandemic, Mallory said.

“We anticipated a slowdown over the past year but it never really happened,” he explained. “There were no special events so our customers couldn’t do those. Some pivoted and were able to create revenue in other ways, by going to the breweries and even for companies looking to fill lunch-hour menus. So we kept on building and customers kept placing orders knowing that one of these days, events will return along with mobile food opportunities.”

In April, REEF announced the expansion to Vancouver of the NBRHD Restaurant Development Program, “designed to help local restaurants scale their delivery business and provide marketing support through REEF’s Kitchens platform.” Details are posted to the company’s website, reeftechnology.com.

• RELATED STORY: New ‘Phoenix Flame BBQ’ truck now mobile with food for Surrey’s ‘hard-to-reach populations’


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