Former Wonder exec named president of Kernel Foods

Chipotle founder Steve Ells' new automated concept Kernel is expected to debut this fall in Manhattan.
Steve Ells Chipotle founder
Chipotle founder Steve Ells is the mastermind behind the soon-to-debut Kernel. | Photo courtesy of Restaurant Business

As Steve Ells’ new automated and plant-based Kernel concept inches toward its New York City debut, the company is building its infrastructure.

Stephen Goldstein, who previously served as COO of the food-delivery startup Wonder, has been named president of Kernel Foods.

Company officials confirmed the news Thursday, which was first reported by the New York Post. Goldstein will oversee operations as the concept prepares for launch this fall in Manhattan.

Goldstein was COO of delivery startup Wonder for about 11 months, and worked previously for more than three years at Deliveroo in London, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he spent four years at Restaurant Brands International, where he headed business development and served as president of the Tim Horton’s USA brand.

Ells, the founder of Chipotle who built that brand to about 2,000 units before stepping down as CEO in 2017, is designing Kernel as a partially automated restaurant that could operate with as few as three workers. The roughly 800-square-foot outlets would be served by a central kitchen in a hub-and-spoke model.

Ells is hoping to grow the concept to about 15 units within two years, and he plans to license the technology to other chains.

Earlier this year, the company closed on a $36 million Series A fundraising round, and investors include Raga Partners, Willoughby Capital, the venture capital firm Rethink Food and Virtu.

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