Cheerful lights, obvious branding and a line of customers out of the door are the hallmarks of many successful takeaways, but there’s one type of takeaway that no one will be visiting: the dark kitchen.
These are kitchens that produce food solely for the delivery market. And they are more common than you might think.
Dark Kitchens, Simply
These dark kitchens exist to cater to demand in an area when existing restaurants may not be able to keep up with supply. And many cater to multiple tastes.
You might have a burger restaurant, a sushi bar and a pizzeria in the same space, all identified by different names in an app. And many of the traditional problems with standard takeaways disappear when you use a kitchen.
For example, you don’t have to have a prestigious location on a major street, and you don’t even have to be easily accessible.
Because trade is app-driven, all you have to have is an online presence — sometimes on multiple delivery platforms. Especially in major cities, this cuts down on costs, as well as risk.
Are Dark Kitchens the Future?
Possibly. In many locations, it makes sense to have a restaurant that you can simply drop into, especially in areas traditionally associated with alcohol consumption. Many people like the experience of queuing up and getting something suitably greasy after a night out.
And there is convenience. Many people simply want to drop in somewhere on the way home and pick up something to eat. You don’t have to decide until you get there, and this has its advantages.
But for those ordering at home, it makes little practical difference whether they order from a dark kitchen or conventional takeaway.
Benefits of Dark Kitchens
- A crucial advantage of dark kitchens is that they offer substantial profits and can offer cost savings to the clientele. This is because they don’t have to offer physical seating, which reduces the size of the business and therefore business rates in some locations, and there is limited risk.
- By having multiple brands under the same kitchen, they can use the same space for dozens of concepts. For each area, a dark kitchen can simply pick and choose the concepts that work for that area. And it makes pivoting extremely easy. Sushi bar idea doesn’t work? You can try out Chinese. Or Thai. Or Nepalese.
- Because there is no branding, except on whatever app you are using, you don’t have to change out anything regarding the shop front. Because there is no shop front. And you don’t have to change local ideas of what your store offers, because there is no storefront.
- Ultimately, a dark kitchen lets you work with multiple delivery services and produce multiple ideas so you can maximize your profits from everyone in the kitchen. If something reduces demand for Chinese food, for example, as we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, you can make up that demand with burgers, steaks and fries.
In the end, your dark kitchen needs a great POS system to ensure that you can track sales and keep up with demand.