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Italian food service Helbiz Kitchen opens in Ralphs with focus on sustainability

Helbiz Kitchen, a sustainability-conscious ghost kitchen, opened in Westwood last month inside the Ralphs Kitchen United Mix, which is pictured. (Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)

By David Gamboa

April 23, 2023 10:26 p.m.

A new sustainability-conscious food delivery service with an Italian twist will give students another casual dining option in Westwood.

Helbiz Kitchen – which opened last month inside Ralphs on Weyburn Avenue – offers the Westwood community a ghost kitchen that delivers sustainably made meals through a fleet of green energy vehicles. The service works through Kitchen United Mix, which currently operates ghost kitchens for other Los Angeles-based restaurants as well.

Ghost kitchens like these, which prepare meals exclusively for take-out orders and lack a physical dining space, are increasingly popular because of their potential to lower the resources typically needed for restaurant operation. Being a sustainability-oriented company, Helbiz Kitchen has adopted the ghost kitchen as a model for its UCLA-adjacent establishment.

The Westwood location is the company’s second location in LA, after its Santa Monica kitchen opened earlier this year.

Currently, the Helbiz Kitchen located in Westwood’s Ralphs offers selections from Burger & Sons, What The Farm and Pokaii, restaurants that allow customers to order customizable burgers, salads and poke bowls. They also offer a variety of healthy and vegan-friendly dishes, according to the Helbiz website.

The possibility of introducing a diversity of food to a community as diverse as Westwood played a significant role in the decision to create a UCLA-adjacent location, said Gian Luca Spriano, CEO of Helbiz Kitchen. Spriano added that the location’s proximity to UCLA also played a role in the decision.

“Being closer and right across the street from UCLA was one of the ideas we had when we looked into locations,” Spriano said. “We would like to share this international experience with all those who live in the area.”

The service, in addition to its delivery option, also gives its clients the opportunity to pick up their meals from the Kitchen United Mix inside the Westwood Ralphs and order from third-party apps such as UberEats and GrubHub. Helbiz Kitchen’s own delivery service employs electric mopeds to keep their operations environmentally friendly.

The service is made unique by its selection of high-quality cuisines and its allowance for customers to order from multiple restaurants in a single order, according to the Helbiz Kitchen website. It also claims to have faster delivery times than other food delivery services.

According to its website, Helbiz Kitchen adheres to the fundamental values of sustainability that its parent company, Helbiz, holds. By only using local ingredients and promoting green pickup services, Helbiz Kitchen aims to put environmental consciousness at the forefront of its business, Spriano said.

“Our buildings are certified, and the produce we receive is local,” he said. “Our goal is to be as sustainable as possible.”

Davera Wilson, a lead manager at Kitchen United Mix, said the option to pick up meals is especially appealing to the students, faculty and staff of UCLA, who often lead busy lifestyles.

“We’re inside Ralphs grocery store, so you can pick up a hot item and then shop at the same time,” she said. “It’s very convenient if you’re quick-and-go and fast-paced.”

The service is convenient, said Luca McDermott, a chemistry graduate student, adding that he believes Kitchen United Mix’s mobile ordering and on-site kiosk features are especially advantageous for customers.

“I like that there’s an app, so you can order and then come down,” McDermott said. “It’s pretty quick, generally a lot faster than other UCLA options.”

Wilson also said one of Helbiz Kitchen’s most unique and significant qualities is the freshly prepared warm meals customers receive instead of pre-prepared food.

Spriano said these three restaurants Helbiz Kitchen has brought to Westwood will – in addition to promoting sustainability – give the community an opportunity to experience the fusion of Italian and American cuisines created by chefs dedicated to quality.

“It’s a different experience of kitchen because what we do, especially in Westwood, is mix the two cultures of Italy and America,” Spriano said. “It’s unique in that it’s an American company with an Italian DNA.”

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