First of all, what is a dark kitchen? A dark kitchen is quite a new term that was formed during the covid lockdown. It used to describe an industrial area that prepares food for delivery.
One of the main advantages of the dark kitchen is lower cost and you have the opportunity to expand to other areas without increasing the costs for a fully functioning takeaway.
The term dark kitchen may also be known as cloud kitchens or ghost kitchens.
So what things you should consider when starting your own dark kitchen? After you decide whether this is the type of restaurant you want to run you then decide on the business model and what food you will be offering.
Here are 10 fundamental steps to start your own dark kitchen:
One of the best benefits of the dark kitchen is that you won’t need to pay high rents for placing yourself on the high street, since you won’t have a physical eat-in restaurant. With the right research from delivery apps and search engines you can find out the areas where people order most of what you offer and decide your location based on that.
Things you should consider when deciding location:
- Does it have access and space for delivery drivers?
- Is there enough room for vans and larger trucks?
- Check the utilities. Costs of electricity and gas. Your usage may be heavy make sure you go for the best providers
- Check space, consider what you want in your kitchen and will it fit?
- Safety requirements, will it need any modifications?
- What is your niche (specialised area) or angle?
You need a selling point to attract your customers. During your location research, you will probably figure out the demand. That way you can look for gaps and perhaps make a decision on your niche based on what is lacking in the area.
You can create something new or take an existing/popular idea and do it better. Be innovative.
- Plan the design and layout of your kitchen
The advantage of your dark kitchen will be that you won’t need to plan the customer dining area and serving locations. You can also put your worries aside regarding customer toilets and the decoration of the kitchen since there won’t be any direct visitors. Optimise your kitchen fit for the delivery orders and make sure the process from making food to delivering can be done as smooth as possible. Design and layout should be determined by your business model. Don’t forget about your staff, consider providing a break area and make sure there is enough space for movement, maybe implement other comforts to create a happy workplace.
- Safety and paperwork
Before you can operate you will need a health inspection. This will include getting the right paperwork for food prep and cooking as well as workflows, temperature monitoring, pest control and much more. For most delivering apps the hygiene rating should be 4 to 5 stars for dark kitchens. Food and kitchen safety is a priority to protect your staff and your customers.
- Choose delivery partners or not
Having your own delivery service offers the most advantage over others. With CholoEAT system this can make it a breeze.
Taking your own delivery means you are in control of the entire process and customer experience, from the preparation of the food to reaching the desired customer.
As for third party delivery platforms they are easy to set up and they have a customer base that you may have access to, however you need to consider that they have substantial commissions on each order, you also have to rely on their drivers for your final customer interaction.
This may be one of your biggest worries, getting it right from the start would be a big plus. Create a great and reliable team, take the time to write detailed job descriptions and thoroughly interview the candidates. Provide good benefits and treatment.
Since your kitchen is a dark kitchen you won’t need to employ staff for dining rooms and service tables. With this, perhaps you would like to consider having more staff in the kitchen, that focus on quality control.
- Menu optimised for delivery
Consider what food will be suitable for delivery. To ensure the quality of the food is great by the time it reaches the customer. Look at what items are popular, profitable, and efficient to produce. Once you know what works well and what doesn’t you can adjust the menu or pricing to increase profitability and efficiency.
- Latest technology
Dark kitchens are driven by technology like CholoEAT system offering ordering website, apps, EPOS, kitchen display system, and delivery tech. Your kitchen should have efficient data flow, which will help you to be able to see the data associated with your kitchen like what is selling the most, daily reports, order dashboard and more. Know what works well in order to optimise your kitchen and sales.
Once everything is up and running you put all the theory into reality. You will see what works well and what doesn’t. And with CholoEAT system you can analyse the data at every stage of the processing and production. .
How CholoEAT can help optimise the process:
- Order management to maximise order volume
- Streamlining the kitchen order flow
- Optimise menu – prices and dish choices.
- Standardising recipe data to improve margins and reduce food waste
- Managing inventory
- Detailed daily reports
- Products reports
Build your online community. Create a strong online presence both on your website, delivery platforms, review sites and social media.
Try to be as active as possible. Post on social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, linked in and more. Monitor and respond to comments and reviews (negative and positive). Encourage customer referrals. Email marketing to build a loyal customer base.
With CholoEAT you can also Implement loyalty programs to help build customer trust and repeat sales, send out app push notifications, SMS messages.
Find out how CholoEAT can help you with your dark kitchen and boost your profit!