- Reef replaced President Michael Beachham, who spearheaded deals with keychains like Wendy’s.
- “Reef chooses to quit before I can complete the mission,” Beam said.
- The departure comes as the launch of the ghost kitchen slows its growth and cuts 750 people.
Reef Technology, a ghostly kitchen startup backed by SoftBank, has removed a key CEO who has spearheaded major licensing partnerships with top restaurant chains such as Wendy’s and TGI Fridays, Insider has learned.
Veteran of the restaurant industry Michael Beachham, who recently held the title of president of kitchens at Reef, said in an exclusive statement to Insider that “Reef chooses to stop my work.”
“I’ve spent the last 18 months working day and night traveling the world trying to build a world-class executive food and beverage team. “I used my thirty years of personal and professional connections in the industry to bring the most famous brands to the REEF ecosystem,” Beam told Insider. “It is unfortunate that REEF chose to close down before I could complete the mission I came here for. There’s something else in this story and what happened to me that will come out at the right time. “
His last day is June 12.
Beam, who regularly represented Reef at industry conferences, was quietly replaced by Kenneth Rourke, who is now president of kitchens and reef at Reef. Rourke’s previous title was executive vice president and head of corporate brands. Prior to joining Reef, he was president of the Barton G. Experienced Restaurant Group.
Reef declined to release records of the departure, merely confirming that Bicham was leaving and was replaced by Rourke. The news comes a month after the ghost kitchen company cut 5% of its workforce in early May.
The current operations manager said Reef was looking for a man in the fall for his operational problems, and Beam took the hit. “Although he was not a great leader, Michael did not make every single bad decision for the company,” said the manager. “There are more leadership roles in the company than actual job roles, so until Reef starts cleaning the house at the leadership level, we will continue to see the same problems. responsible. “
The manager asked to remain anonymous, as they are not allowed to speak to the press, but their identity is known to Insider.
Beam had decades of experience in the restaurant industry, having previously held senior positions at the parent companies of Olive Garden, Chuck E Cheese and Hard Rock Cafe (where he and Rourke were colleagues). He joined Reef in October 2020, a month before the Miami-based startup received $ 700 million in funding from SoftBank.
In February 2021, Beam replaced Bruce Schroeder as president of Reef. During his tenure, he saw huge growth in Reef, which operates mobile trailers that sell food for delivery through applications such as DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Beacham has been responsible for striking partnerships with well-known restaurant chains such as Burger King, Popeyes and Subway, as well as brands supported only by celebrities such as MrBeast Burger and Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen.
Reef’s mobile kitchen utensils are usually placed in car parks run by Reef, formerly known as ParkJockey. Reef has grown from 100 kitchen utensils at the end of 2020 to 320 kitchen utensils operating in the United States and worldwide at the end of 2021.
In January, Reef temporarily closed about a third of its food trailers due to poor performance. Around the same time, the company began to strengthen its partnerships with large corporate brands such as Wendy’s, which made more money than virtual brands.
But the rapid growth of the startup was haunted by operational chaos and wrong steps, as documented by Insider. The company has been caught operating unlicensed trailers in many US cities, has been cited for violating food safety protocols and has been accused of detaining suppliers.
Most recently, Insider reported that real estate firm JLL is suing Reef, claiming they are not paying invoices totaling about $ 3.5 million. This week, Reef filed a motion to dismiss the JLL case, saying the complaint contained “numerous fatal flaws.”
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