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The Rise of Dark Kitchens

The global online food delivery market made more than $91B in 2018 and over $100B in 2019. It’s expected to reach $120b in 2020 and is projected to create revenues of more than $164billion by 2024.

The industry's meteoric rise has seen many online starts ups such as Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo, all battling for a piece of the pie here in the UK.

To offer more food delivery options to areas where there is demand, companies such as Deliveroo started to provide remote dark kitchens to restaurants.

These facilities, which initially consisted of portable cabins and windowless shipping containers were initially criticised by the media, some, saying that many customers were unaware that this is where their food was coming. But regardless, dark kitchens are becoming increasingly popular and this is now an industry offering massive new business opportunities.

There are a variety of approaches that start-up companies are using to provide a food delivery only service. Some are simply focused on setting up delivery kitchens in the right urban locations. Some are launching new food delivery and food-box brands that first started at home and for many, dark kitchens represent a great way for established restaurant brands to test the market in new locations without having to commit to a lease.

One of the biggest challenges for any food business is finding flexible and affordable kitchen space. Whether this be as a retail outlet, a delivery kitchen, or as a food production kitchen.

The benefits of hiring a dark kitchen are numerous. There’s very little capital outlay, running costs are significantly less, it’s the quickest and most effective route to a new geographic market and it’s a great way of seeing what's selling well in certain areas where you don’t have a retail presence.

There are no leasehold contracts to negotiate, you simply pay monthly and it's a great way to find out cheaply if the people within the area like what you’re selling.

Also, the aim of any great restaurant that offers delivery, is to reduce the amount of time that the food is in transit so that delivery customers enjoy to the best, your branded food experience.

Yes, some people may feel that ‘dark kitchens’ are a little underhand, but these are still your kitchens, your chefs, your recipes, your brand and most consumers will love you for having food that they can recieve ready cooked to their homes.

My opinion is that the industry could have been better off calling these ‘satellite kitchens’, it’s a way more friendly term, but in the end, the figures speak for themselves! - Customers want a consistent product that they know and love, which tastes great , is readily available and affordable, and if this comes from a dark kitchen or directly from a bricks and mortar restaurant they don't really care and the figures are proving this!

As Jamie Oliver declared when he closed most of his restaurant chain recently, "the concept of paying for a big bricks and mortar restaurant is being disrupted by the delivery market, which is now here to stay".

If you're thinking about a delivery kitchen - a 'Dark Kitchen', there's never been a better time to get started, reach out to us here and we'd be delighted to provide you with as much information as possible and arrange a site tour if required. Tel: 020 8124 6118 |

Photo Credit: Jesús Terrés

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