The Guardian reports: “As appetite grows for upmarket takeaways, delivery service is setting restaurants up with satellite kitchens inside metal boxes. Deliveroo in London is setting-up dozens of “dark kitchens” in prefabricated structures for restaurants that want to expand their businesses without opening expensive high street premises”.
These metal boxes are fitted with industrial kitchen equipment, and two or three chefs and kitchen porters are at work in each box, preparing food for different restaurants offering delivery. The Guardian: “These boxes have no windows and many of the chefs work with the doors open, through which they can be seen stirring huge pans or flipping burgers. Outside there are piles of spare equipment, mops in buckets, gas cylinders for the stoves and large cans of cooking oil”.
Deliveroo in London finds and equips the locations, rents them out to restaurants, which employ and train the kitchen staff. This might be the first step towards an industrialization of urban cooking. Jason Droege, vice president for Uber Everything, labels them “virtual restaurants.” Such places start with no storefronts and no seats. These unconventional options are proliferating as the online food delivery business continues its pace of 20 percent year-over-year growth.
Companies like Deliveroo and Uber Eats collect big data on consumer orders. Will they still need restaurant owners in the near future? Or, will they take over the home delivery market? Will the future of meal delivery be in multi-brand robotized dark kitchens around our city centers? What will be the impact on fast meal deliveries on city logistics? Interesting challenges for further research.
Walther Ploos van Amstel.