The Rise of Dark Kitchens
Are you craving an exotic seafood paella from Spain? What about a steaming bowl of pho from Vietnam? While we may not be able to travel, our taste buds definitely can. With a few simple clicks, the world is at our doorstep, and Australian’s can’t seem to get enough.
In the last 5 years, Australia’s online food ordering and delivery platforms have experienced an 81% industry growth. The hospitality sector is more than happy to feed this growing demand for home delivery and many of our local favorites are adjusting their takeaway capacities in order to compete. Many restaurants are choosing to invest in their commercial kitchens to cater for an influx of online orders. These kitchen fit-outs often include adding sinks, increasing the number of outlets to cooking stations and redesigning the space for additional commercial refrigeration units.
Your local pizzeria isn’t the only business embracing the movement; delivery platforms have catapulted a new kind of kitchen to the forefront of the hospitality industry. You’ve probably heard the term dark, cloud, ghost or virtual kitchen. They have been on the rise in Australia for the past 10 years. These hide & seek kitchens only appear on delivery apps. They don’t have traditional shopfronts but instead utilize the commercial kitchens of other restaurants.
Alternatively, we predict that ‘super warehouse kitchens’ will emerge in high demand takeaway areas. In the US & UK these warehouses are gaining popularity. They are fitted with state-of-the-art industrial hospitality kitchens that can produce hundreds of takeaway orders per night. Multiple food operators will function from the same warehouse producing an assortment of tasty cuisine for the local area. You can reach these secret restaurants through platforms like Uber Eats, Deliveroo & Menulog.
Many have dubbed this movement the next logical step in the food and beverage industry. Dark kitchens have an extremely flexible business structure. They are able to adopt a more tailored approach to suit changing customer tastes. This adaptability helps them to harness a level of longevity in the hospitality sector. They also have lower startup costs in comparison to traditional restaurants. Finally, aspiring chefs have the opportunity to break into a cut-throat industry and produce food they are passionate about.
So, what does this mean for your cafes or restaurants? Physical dining is still and will always be a popular experience. However, customer-facing restaurant snow have the ability to gain much-needed additional revenue from subletting their facilities. In Perth, some commercial kitchens are renting their facilities to cooking schools during the day and dark kitchens by night. During turbulent times, this revenue stream might be the difference between keeping the doors open to your business. As for your online food orders, expect to see more variety of cuisine in your area and fast pick up times. Food can now be collected by a courier from a centralized location and delivered at lightspeed to your address.
For the past 15 years, Unita has been building and refurbishing some of Australia’s best hospitality venues. Our experience reaches past simply creating beautiful spaces as we have a deep understanding of what makes a commercial kitchen the best it possibly can be. We can work with you and your space to create the ultimate workflow and maximize takeaway efficiency. We offer end-to-end solutions through on-site consultations, equipment and storage recommendations, installations and complete fit-out. We believe that great kitchen facilities produce amazing food.
If you’re looking to introduce a dark kitchen or perhaps see the potential of a super warehouse, get in touch.