The food sector is allegedly revolutionising a new phenomenon of takeaway. The growth of these so-called ‘dark kitchen’ is expected to conveniently meet public demand for urgent food supplies without hindering existing industries and offering yet another target.
While an increasing number of customers order their food via third-party Apps, most people do not even know that their food has been cooked in a dark kitchen. Their main concern is that the food delivery is timely and the food tasty.
The growth of online business models and emphasis on personalised and convenient experiences are some factors that affect virtually every industry nowadays. The food, restaurant, and beverage industry has not been left behind, and virtual kitchens have filled this void. With simple implementation requirements, dark-kitchens are a welcome change to anyone serious about providing a food delivery service.
What is a Dark Kitchen?
Dark-kitchens often refer to food preparation undertaking at a different location rather than a restaurant. They are also known as remote, cloud, virtual, commissary, and ghost kitchens. They include kitchen appliances and food storage equipment but have no customer dining areas.
The business model for virtual kitchens will effectively concentrate on particular demographics by creating and transitioning a brand idea. Placement of orders is online, relative to a standard takeaway setup, with no public facility, meaning the public has no access to the premises.
The Rise of Dark Kitchens
It is the emergence of a new era with technology bringing the realisation of endless possibilities. Gone are the days when you would order an item online then wait for weeks for its delivery. With technology today, delivery is almost as instant as placing an order. And so it goes that the food industry has embraced this phenomenon.
Technology, combined with the millennials as the major customer base, has made the rise of dark-kitchens inevitable. For millennials, waiting is not an acceptable option. Instant payments made online and the ability to communicate globally at any time of day caused the food and beverage industry to join the bandwagon and reinvent itself for compliance, hence the rise of dark-kitchens. Forbes, observes that the growth of this business model will be exponential.
Online orders in the UK now account for about 30% of food industry sales. Restaurant proprietors are now realising the importance of adding a distribution brand to their current brick and mortar restaurant set-up. Incorporating a delivery only section to an existing restaurant kitchen can get the most out of the in-house offering.
The Benefits of Dark-Kitchens
Automation: Virtual kitchens can enjoy augmented potency thanks to the automated sales method. Therefore, the ability to specialise in food preparation processes instead of service is enhanced. This efficiency is critical for bigger corporations and food ramp-ups.
New Networks to Market: Ghost kitchens may be seen as an expansion channel through delivery to untapped markets. This acquisition can occur minus the financial implications of running a fully-fledged eating place.
Lesser Operational Costs: The eatery business is disreputable for having terribly high expenses. The proprietor needs not to fear about shop design, rent, or alternative building-related prices with a virtual kitchen. The dark kitchen model permits the eatery to eradicate these overheads and, in its place, concentrate solely on food production and delivery. Additionally, the necessity for service employees is eliminated.
Brand Change: The flexibility to simply experiment with new concepts, menus, brands, and ideas comes with hiring a dark kitchen. Specific menus in a brick and mortar set-up may sometimes require kitchen designs specifically to those needs. However, with a ghost kitchen, there isn’t any physical premise to consider when there’s an alteration in food trends. This facilitates changing menus or concepts overnight, thus evolving your brand to accommodate the new demand.
Technology Advancement: With the delivery business model, a dark kitchen facilitates access to your customer database and adaptation in real-time. This makes it possible to identify demand in precise zones.
Food Quality: First class quality and healthy food are crucial for the modern customer. Therefore, the rationale behind cloud kitchens’ dedication tor promoting higher-quality foods at a lower cost.
Adaptability and Flexibility: The fact that cloud kitchens can function from absolutely anywhere eliminates the need to select a prime area for your business. This way, it is easy for you to adapt to demand that happens seasonally. Another added advantage is the ability to partner with existing delivery provision services, thus eradicating the need to develop a delivery App.
Dark-Kitchens: The Downside
Brand Value Devaluation: Modern-day diners have no qualms paying a premium price for a brand whose value they recognise and relate to. However, taking away that on-site experience may cause the brand value to deteriorate.
Discontent Employees: Humid, hot kitchens are a natural part of the food industry. The lone operating methodology to some ghost kitchen outfits may increase discomfort and cause stress amongst workers.
Loss of Consistency and Control: You probably manage the cloud kitchen together with your employees. Notwithstanding, delivery logistics may affect the standard and quality of the food your customers end up receiving on their end.
Considerations to Make Before Engaging in the Dark Kitchen Concept
Several factors come into play when considering utilising a dark kitchen. For instance, when a customer complains about service, is it your responsibility or the delivery agent you used? Factor in what you can do to prevent such complaints.
Food packaging types are a great factor to consider as your focus is ensuring the food arrives at a desirable temperature and still fresh.
Ensure you partner with reputable delivery companies to ensure your customers receive exemplary service to make them repeat customers.
Consider your customer base are people who were previously used to the actual restaurant experience. Factor this in when pricing your menu.
With delivery comes customer data collection and rapport and relationship building. Determine who is responsible for this: you or your delivery agent.
While a remote kitchen may sound complex in all the factors you need to consider, it may ultimately be the best decision you make for your business to remain profitable and expand your horizons with ease.
As additional ghost kitchens join the souk, communal cognisance may catch on. Thus, these business models must create an equilibrium between compliance and recurring costs. This will facilitate adherence in the face of their operations scrutiny.
While purchasing a dark kitchen may not be within arm’s length for many food-delivery service providers, the flexible rental model for dark kitchens has made it possible for even those operating within a limited budget. At Occupyd, you will be spoilt for choice from the wide range of kitchen types they have available in a vast number of locations countrywide. With this, you no longer have an excuse as to why you haven’t started that food delivery business yet. It just got easier!