A virtual kitchen is quite the chameleon; other names include dark kitchen, ghost kitchen, satellite kitchen, cloud kitchen, delivery-only kitchens… I think we’ve covered them all.
The number of virtual food brands in the UK grew by 150% in 2019 alone, so the number of delivery-only kitchens grew in line with this incredible uprising of virtual business models.
With the benefits, convenience and effectiveness of virtual kitchens, they have quickly become the go-to for restaurants or new start-up businesses looking to capitalise on the food delivery market.
Let’s explore what a virtual kitchen is, how they are disrupting the restaurant industry and how you can make this kitchen model work for your business.
What is Virtual Kitchen?
A virtual kitchen is used by delivery only restaurants to store, prepare and cook the food ready to be delivered directly to the customer. This particular kitchen model allows you to operate a successful food business without the need to have a store-front.
Although the primary occupier is the delivery-only market, the lack of store-front or need for foot traffic means they are the perfect solution for food trucks or street food vendors, pop up restaurants, scaleups and beyond.
Benefits of the Virtual Kitchen Model
The benefits of using a dark kitchen are manifold, and they have been the driving influence behind many food entrepreneurs and startup food businesses making a successful name for themselves in the ever-growing and fiercely-competitive food delivery industry.
Just a small glimpse of the benefits of a ghost kitchen are:
- Lower overheads and increased profit margin
- Quicker, more efficient service
- Greater business and operation flexibility
- More scope to experiment
- Ability to meet an increase in food delivery demands
Why is the Demand for Virtual Kitchens Growing?
What was once a market of fairly limited and not-that-appetising options, has now blossomed into a delectable, diverse and quirky menu of international cuisine.
The UK takeaway industry has long been a staple for a chilled Saturday evening with friends or a saviour on a hungover Sunday morning. As the options have evolved and the ease of online ordering has improved due to apps like UberEats or Deliveroo, takeaways are more prominent than ever and increasing numbers of people choose to eat from home instead of venturing out.
To keep up with the rise in takeaway demand, traditional restaurants had to advance their services to provide food delivery and avoid missing out on a huge customer base. This has increased tenfold since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that has forced sit-in restaurants up and down the country to close their doors.
Shaking Up the Restaurant Industry
Although ghost kitchens were increasing in popularity over the last couple of years, coronavirus will change consumer preferences forever, not just while the pandemic is ongoing, and restaurants have started adapting sooner rather than later.
The future of the restaurant has changed and many traditional restaurants have done a 360 to takeaway only. Rather than keeping their original premise, these restaurants are now turning to virtual kitchens to run their operations to save on rent and overheads, let alone all of the new food startups that have been popping up during lockdown – they’re likely to be in a dark kitchen, too.
HOW MANY TAKEAWAYS?!
Just to put into perspective how quickly the UK takeaway industry is growing, let’s take a look at some pretty jaw-dropping statistics:
- The food delivery market was valued at 8.5 billion in 2019
- 7.5 billion UK food deliveries were made in 2019
- 1.6 million meals were sold each week on third-party delivery platforms
- The number of UK food deliveries has increased by 39% in 3 years
- The number of UK virtual food brands increased by 150% in 2019
To sum up, virtual kitchens were created to give virtual restaurants, pop-ups, startups and online food businesses the capabilities to make a success of their brand without excessive overheads and to access state-of-the-art commercial kitchen spaces without the need for a physical storefront.
In light of Covid19, all restaurants will now have to review the way they operate and analyse if this is in line with the drastic shift in consumer habits that now sees us all staying home more than ever before.
Although lockdown has eased slightly and restaurants are now allowed to open for sit-ins, the industry as a whole will never be the same again and takeaway and food-delivery services can no longer be overlooked if you want your food business to be a flourishing success
At Dephna, we offer complete flexibility and 24-hour access to our ghost kitchens with commission-free deliveries. If you’re interested in renting one of our virtual kitchens, book a visit to one of our prime London kitchen locations now.