What are Dark Kitchens?
A dark kitchen is a professional kitchen space where food is prepared and produced for the sole intention of delivery. This means that there are no customer-facing services, dining or waiting areas within the restaurant. Dark kitchens have been created to allow established eateries to service a large volume of delivery orders through takeaway apps such as Deliveroo, without straining the staff at pre-existing sites.
Why the need for Dark Kitchens?
The takeaway market in 2020 made up 8% of the overall UK foodservice sector. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this number has soared with London alone selling an extra 900,000 meals per week through popular apps such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo. This has created an entirely new delivery and takeout business model.
The industry has massively grown over the last two years, with new opportunities unfolding for businesses and a chance to take advantage of the new customer behaviour. Due to this the number of dark kitchens has increased. This has allowed businesses to expand to new areas without having to face the cost-base that they would usually see when expanding to a high street.
Businesses will experience lower overhead costs as there are no customer seating or waiting areas, this significantly lowers the costs of rent and eradicates the need for waiting staff. This has led to an increase in delivery orders, whilst reducing overhead costs.
The growth of takeaways and demand for dark kitchens is not just a response to COVID-19. The increase in dark kitchens has grown massively since 2020 from the lockdown restrictions put in place preventing customers to eat out. However, the hospitality industry has seen a definite change in consumer behaviour for delivery, even as restrictions have been eased and restaurants opened, the convenience of ordering takeaways has won over the public.
Dark kitchens allow businesses to test new concepts with other brands, menus, and their image.
Dark kitchens also allow businesses to launch new menus with little costs, there is no physical premise to consider or staff to train on new ingredient and allergen information. A dark kitchen can quickly adjust in a brief period of time. For example, if current advertising on third party delivery apps is not drawing in customers, it can easily be changed without worrying about staff uniforms, interior design, and in-store menus.
The kitchens tend to be located outside of city centres, allowing delivery drivers to navigate and drive safely when delivering orders. Additionally, these sites bring delivery options to individuals who previously would not have had access, such as small and rural locations.
How can we help businesses with Dark Kitchens?
The concerns regarding food safety in dark kitchens are heavily discussed due to the isolated nature of the kitchens. However, the food should still be up to restaurant standards with proper systems in place.
We offer a range of software solutions to FBOs to ensure they can produce recipe and ingredient assurance, allowing customers to have access to accurate food information.
Smart Chef is our menu management system that shows chefs exactly how to prepare each dish. This information is easily accessible reduces the chance of error in the kitchen. Individuals which suffer from allergies and intolerances will have the confidence in their meals knowing that it was prepared alongside a specialist menu management system.
The data within Smart Chef is updated in real-time as any supply chain information changes or updates, providing a cohesive environment for teams to collaborate in. The food information can be passed through to our printing solution, Smart Menu.
By also utilising our Smart Menu software, the PPDS labelling will be accurate through using the live data. It also ensures that the business is in line with Natasha’s Law (The Food Information Amendment (England) Regulation 2019), beginning October 2021.
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