Rogue employee launched PR campaign for Travis Kalanick’s new “Internet Food Court” brand, company claims

Almost as quickly as it popped up online, all traces of Internet Food Court vanished this week

New York Weekend Edition /
Apr.April 11, 2020 12:00 PM
Travis Kalanick (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Travis Kalanick (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The world appeared to get a sneak peek last week of a new brand that Travis Kalanick’s City Storage Systems is reportedly developing, but just a few days later the company completely disowned it.

A website went up, an Instagram account created, and a press release went out replete with renderings and slogans for Internet Food Court — a brand that appeared to be the final form of CSS’s delivery-only “cloud kitchens” venture launched two years ago. CSS soon said it had nothing to do with the campaign, according to Financial Times.

The whole campaign was the work of a rogue employee who “created and disseminated without [CSS’s] knowledge,” company spokesperson Devon Spurgeon said.

“One of CSS’s employees developed a website and press release that included numerous errors and misrepresentations,” Spurgeon said, adding that the company was investigating the incident.

A source close to Kalanick added that the former Uber CEO was “very upset” and that the company didn’t know how the website was created.

CSS has been developing its cloud kitchen venture since at least 2018. The idea is to buy cheap real estate, build large shared kitchens, and rent them out to multiple delivery-only restaurants. Around that time they operated at least one location in L.A.

The rogue PR campaign seems to have some grain of truth to it. As of last week there was a fully operational location complete with Internet Food Court branding open at 615 N. Western Avenue in Hollywood.

The few Yelp reviews from last week aren’t great and appear to be written by delivery workers sent to pick up food for customers there. Most described long wait times. [Financial Times] – Dennis Lynch


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