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What is a 'dark kitchen' and why it is said that they revolutionized the gastronomic industry

The shift from operations to home delivery service further consolidated the concept of 'dark kitchens'. Find out why.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

What is a Dark Kitchen ? A ' dark kitchen ' is one where only take-out food is prepared, that is, in them the chairs, tables and waiters disappear. This concept was created to meet the demand for food on delivery platforms.

Daniel Nijland vía Unsplash

Do they sound familiar to you? As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to stay and work from home, this caused an increase in both online shopping and demand for takeout food.

The restaurant industry also suffered adjustments during this time and as Chef Alonso Rico Saenz from the Universidad del Valle de México, Campus Lomas Verdes explains, “in the culinary business the delivery service was implemented, mainly supported through the delivery platforms thanks to the digitalization of communication channels between the consumer and the company to satisfy the culinary experience at home ”.

This change of operations to the home delivery service consolidated the dark kitchen concept a little more, since while it helped some restaurants with the demand for entrepreneurs it represented a great business opportunity.

Culinary business losses in 2020 ranged from 43% to 70% compared to its revenue in 2019, according to the results of the Restaurant Industry Resilience in Times of COVID-19 survey , published in November 2020 by the organization. México Actúa, la Canirac, Buendía & Laredo.

In this sense, Rico Saenz commented that 'dark kitchens' was an almost unexplored area in Mexico that had great potential for entrepreneurs. But, this represented the discovery of new opportunities, such as:

Create unique culinary experiences at home, from the development of a guide with step-by-step recipes to the distribution of products to the retail market, for example: exclusive seasonings from the creation of Restaurant Chef, creative packaging that ensures the reception of a fresh product ready to eat and the transformation of packaging to ensure that the products arrive in excellent condition, as well as forming a home delivery service supported by processes.

This business model is here to stay

Those gastronomic businesses that adapted to this model of the dark kitchen , achieved a reduction in their fixed expenses, and as a consequence they were able to lower the cost of their food and offer a competitive service, according to Luis Avilés Benítez, Executive Chef of the UVM Campus San Rafael.

The expert explains that this is a strategy that is here to stay. "Companies that have adapted this mode of operation, to their operation or hybrid models, will continue to be successful," he commented.

If right now you are thinking of opening a dark kitchen, do not forget to offer or partner with a restaurant that offers healthy options on its menu. According to Avilés Benítez, in light of the information that has been generated around health care due to the pandemic, more awareness has been generated in people about the consumption of natural and healthy foods.

In this context, the demand of customers to have nutritious cuisine proposals became important.

Likewise, the expert comments that the latter represents a greater opportunity for consolidated restaurants that were integrated into the 'dark kitchens' format, since they must offer quality and training in the process of preparing their food, while businesses that are undertaken in makeshift kitchens cannot always guarantee this type of training.

The restaurant at home

In a post-pandemic stage it is necessary for restaurants to implement a marketing diagram to publicize their new products and with it the restaurant experience at home, explains Alonso Rico.

"In this sense, the customer is also becoming more demanding, therefore, the companies that adapt to this change to bring and transform the experience at home are the ones who will remain and ensure success," he concluded.