Wired Kitchens, a newly debuted ghost kitchen company, has shifted into the development stage. Matthew McLeod, co-founder and CEO of the company, said Wired recently closed on 17,000 square feet of warehouse space in Chicago and 13,000 square feet of space in Miami.

It will chop up the space into “kitchen studios” of roughly 250 square feet and lease them out to virtual restaurant operators. McLeod said the company is targeting a mix of well-known brands and independent operators.

Demand for the service has been strong. Prior to buying property in Miami, the company tested the market with two months of Facebook ads. McLeod said his team received 260 tenant inquiries during that time, more than the startup could reply to.

He hopes to have both Miami and Chicago up and running by the second quarter of next year, but added that it’s “always hard to say.” The Miami market is booming, and he said municipal permitting could hold up the process.

The inspiration to start a ghost kitchen company came when McLeod, a San Francisco resident, saw the success of Water2Table, a fresh fish market behind Fisherman’s Wharf. He said the concept grew quickly off of “a couple of Facebook posts,” and he was impressed when he went down to see it for himself. “The pandemic is decimating everybody and these guys are printing money,” he said. The power of the digital demand was clear.

That was early in the pandemic, and companies such as CloudKitchens were already opening ghost kitchens by that point, but that hasn’t held Wired or its investors back. The company is backed by Foundation Capital, a New York City-based private equity firm, and McLeod said Wired hasn’t struggled to raise money.

McLeod has been a California resident for more than a decade, but he said Wired launched outside the state to avoid the “expensive and complicated” process of doing business within his home state. The company has “national, or even global ambitions,” and a recent press release indicates its focus will be dense urban markets, but McLeod declined to share specifics. “We have a list,” he said, but nothing is far enough along to announce.