The rise of dark kitchens


When many bars, cafes and restaurants were forced to close, other companies took the opportunity to diversify or to fill the gap. The year 2020 has shown the resilience of many companies that have reinvented their business model by offering takeaway, delivery or drive-through solutions. And another trend is arising: the trend of dark kitchens. Learn more about these dark kitchens and get inspired by some interesting examples!

The rise of dark kitchens

What are dark kitchens?

Dark kitchens, also called ghost kitchens, cloud kitchens, or virtual restaurants, are restaurants without a front of a house: there’s no dining area where people can sit and eat-in. Instead, these kitchens fully focus on food delivery. Ghost kitchens existed before, but the coronavirus has accelerated this development.

Started in the midst of the coronavirus crisis: delivery-only restaurant Falafellow 

In the Netherlands, delivery-only restaurant Falafellow illustrates the power of the dark kitchen. Falafellow opened two days before the country went into lockdown. It was supposed to be a temporary concept in the delivery of healthy falafel meals, but within a month they were so successful that they decided to continue their service. In the midst of the crisis, Falafellow managed to build great success, and their ambitions for 2021 are even bigger. Read this interview (in Dutch) with founder Mathilde van der Weerd to find out how they did it. 

The rise of dark kitchens

200 ghost kitchens on business parks and food courts

Another example that fires the imagination is the American company sbe, which provides various delivery meals in collaboration with several top chefs. The meals are prepared per region in central (ghost) kitchens that are mostly situated in business parks and in food courts. Consumers order from home with a virtual concept and all dishes are prepared at the central location – from where they deliver the meals themselves. The company now runs 200 such ghost kitchens worldwide and many more locations are planned.*

Ghost bakery in Mexico

A completely different sort of ghost kitchen, but a very inspiring example of being creative in difficult times, is Cuarentena Baking. This Mexican ghost bakery was set up by two broke artists…from home, with a $42 toaster oven they bought on credit! To escape the boredom of the lockdown, they began baking. When they turned out to be very good at it, they started an Instagram account to showcase their baked treats. In no time they had so many clients they could move to new premises, with a new oven. And they’re not the only ones: in Mexico City there’s a blossoming of home-based dark kitchens. To learn more about Cuarentena Baking, read this inspiring NY Times article.

The rise of dark kitchens

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*Source: Trend Report 2021, Food Inspiration