The Rise of Dark Kitchens and Why They Matter

Dark Kitchens. They sound a bit scary, don’t they? 

And there’s a reason for that. Because they aren’t somewhere that you or I can go. Instead, they’re used as an extension of a restaurant’s kitchen or, in some cases, as the sole kitchen for delivery-only food orders. 

Dark Kitchens are the most popular way to produce delivery-only food. And with the rise in demand and convenience of takeaway food we’re betting they’ll become commonplace across many high streets in 2021. 

And we can thank Deliveroo Editions for pioneering this approach. Also known as ‘Rooboxes’, Deliveroo is running approx. 16 ‘Editions’ sites across the UK and 32 worldwide. And each site houses around 100 Dark Kitchens. 

So what exactly goes on in a Dark Kitchen? 

Also known as cloud, virtual, ghost and satellite kitchens, Dark Kitchens are everywhere in the UK, not just the Capital. And with high-street retailers beginning to fade and move online, more of them could end up taking their unused real-estate. 

Imagine a floor of space divided by glass windows and cubicles. A different style of food prepared in each cubicle – from pizza to curry, burgers to nachos, Thai food to Turkish. Several Dark Kitchens run under the same roof while focusing on producing high-quality food for each business.  

And what are the benefits of Dark Kitchens?  

Cost Savings

By sharing the same space with other restauranteurs, Dark Kitchens will save business owners money on communal utilities. Think lighting, air conditioning, washrooms and security. Plus, they’ll also be cheaper on your monthly rental costs. 

According to London-based Karma Kitchens’ co-founder Eccie Newton

Costs for operators in these facilities can be 30% less than traditional premises.

Speed and efficiency 

With the sole purpose of churning out high-quality food, Dark Kitchen staff get to focus on cooking without the distractions of serving customers. 

Trialled by McDonald’s in 2019, Dark Kitchens are powering 10% of all McDonald’s delivery orders.  

Better working conditions for staff

Dark Kitchen spaces are often shared, with many restauranteurs working together. But arranging their businesses this way means standards in hygiene can be better upheld. 

Plus, what’s more, delivery drivers can socially distance from cooking staff when picking up orders. 

And this helps to reduce any transmissions between staff and with customers.  

Better potential to expand your business

Restauranteurs who run a Dark-Kitchen-Only business model often find they’re able to serve a wider area of customers. 

In other words, without the pressures of multi-tasking and no limitations on location (as there won’t be any locals stopping by), dark kitchens can serve customers wherever they are. And wherever their business can get to.

And this increases the chance of expansion. 

What’s the future for Dark Kitchens? 

In short, huge. 

Recently, Amazon announced a major investment into Deliveroo’s Dark Kitchens and now have a 16% stake in Deliveroo Editions. 

And with this financial power behind them, Deliveroo plans to double the number of global ‘Editions’ sites they run in 2021. So, with 64 sites around the world — each housing around 100 dark kitchens each — this could be the start of a revolution. 

It’s also worth noting that many people have raised concerns about them. Because some customers believe restaurants should be transparent about where delivery food is coming from. And often, they won’t know that it comes from a dark kitchen. 

But with many more arriving across the globe, serving the needs of hungry customers, this is a business model that the industry needs to embrace during these challenging times. 

What tech do you need to run a Dark Kitchen?

Dark kitchens require a responsive, effective ePOS system that can send orders to different areas of the kitchen. 

Our hardware and software can provide this service, along with website and mobile app ordering, making ordering as easy as possible for your customers. And our driver-tracking technology makes sure your delivery service is ready for success.  

If you’re thinking about setting one up then talk to us. We’d love to tell you how our online and mobile app ordering systems could enhance your business growth.