Ghost Kitchens Prove to Be a Messy Business, as Reef Global Shows

A few seconds after a cook turned on a stove in a tiny mobile kitchen in a Houston parking lot in April, a fireball erupted from the propane burners, flaring out into the center of the trailer owned by Reef Global Inc.

While the cook escaped harm—she happened to open a refrigerator at the same time that shielded her from the flames—it was the second such incident at the same Houston trailer in four months. The first one injured a different cook, as flames scorched her face and gave her third-degree burns on her hands that caused skin to peel off her fingers, rendering her unable to work. A similar fireball in San Francisco injured another Reef employee in the spring, according to former Reef managers briefed on the three incidents.