Controversy surrounds 'ghost kitchen' and the traffic it's causing on Chicago's North Side

A kitchen controversy has reached a boiling point on Chicago’s North Side. The controversy surrounds Cloud Kitchens on Rockwell near Irving Park.

Toby Snipes and Gabi Watts opened Queen K's kitchen in a private suite at Cloud Kitchens, saying it is easier and cheaper than a traditional restaurant.

"Cloud Kitchens really gave us the opportunity to say, ‘hey, we can really do this the real way,’" Watts said.

In the so called "ghost kitchen," 11 restaurants currently operate, but there is no dine in. It only offers to-go orders and delivery.

"On a given week, we do anywhere from six to 10,000 orders a week," said operations and sales manager Deidra Suber.

That means a lot of delivery drivers on Rockwell, which has several businesses but also homes. Community members have taken pictures that they say show overwhelming traffic trouble. They have filed complaints since the business opened last year.


At the next door veterinary clinic, Jacqueline Ross says they "frequently get complaints from our clients who are saying, you know, traffic is just much more difficult to manage."

Suber says Cloud Kitchens added a parking lot for delivery drivers, hired security guards and helped clean up the block. She also points out that the street is zoned for business.

"This is a business district right, we are supposed to have traffic, we're supposed to have deliveries. Those are activities in which restaurants or any business needs to operate," Suber said.

The alderman in the 47th ward, Matt Martin, convened a community mediation process in January after he said more than 100 people complained, including adjacent businesses who said they lost money due to Cloud Kitchens. Martin says on Tuesday, the city and Cloud Kitchens will try to hash out a "plan of operations."

"What we're talking about here is a bad actor, a bad neighbor, who should have been operating in a much different way, especially communicating with the community months ago," Martin said.

Martin has introduced an ordinance that would restrict how close "ghost kitchens" could be located near housing.