Up and running in weeks? Shorten your business plan timeline with a delivery-only kitchen
The world of hospitality has often moved at a glacial pace – 6 months to a year to plan and create just one high-street concept – but that doesn’t synchronise with our modern world. Technology has touched and transformed many aspects of our lives, and it’s now come for hospitality and food.
Food delivery apps, spearheaded by Deliveroo, Just Eat and Door Dash internationally, have changed the public’s expectations for food delivered to their door – and the appetite for new taste experiences is driving increased demand.
Speed and flexibility are the key qualities for new start-up businesses like these, but how can you square this with the traditionally slow pace of hospitality? As more operators look to capitalize on this new market dynamic, the ‘delivery-only’ or ‘Dark Kitchen’ trend has picked up steam.
But how can delivery-only kitchens buck the traditional slow pace of the market? Below we outline how delivery-only kitchens can be ready in a few weeks, rather than months, and how they can turbo-charge your plans for growth.
Location, Location, Location?
One of the key delays for setting up any hospitality concern is finding a good site. Destination hospitality sites need to fulfil four key needs:
- Footfall – enough people need to pass by your new premises to help you make a profit
- Demographics – the site needs to be in an area with the right type of customers to suit your menu offering
- Affordable rent – the amount you pay must work with your business plan to deliver profit
- Space that lends itself to both a restaurant space, but also with the space to invite in enough customers to make a profit
Fulfilling these four vital criteria is a tough ask. It is a long, tricky process and can leave food entrepreneurs, looking to move fast and setup a concept quickly, frustrated.
By reducing the need for ‘prime’ sites that are in the ‘perfect’ place, with the right space, at the right price, delivery-only kitchens give hospitality entrepreneurs more chance to find a good fit for them in a shorter timeframe.
Delivery-only kitchens need to be near large population centres, but not necessarily on ‘popular’ streets. They could be on a car park or waste ground near to the right population centre, or inside large indoor premises, that could be converted to kitchens quickly. This means more sites are available for your needs and means that rents for these sites will be lower, reducing your overheads and speeding up your time-to-profit.
As you also only need to produce food on your site, and no customer will ever set foot in it, you can create a good commercial production kitchen, with no need to convert a space with great interior décor, reducing ‘fit out’ costs and the time it takes to get up and running. And as you only need to pay for the kitchen space, you have no worries about ‘capacity’ or turning tables – you’re set up for profit.
So, although it is far from ‘easy’ to set up a delivery-only kitchen, it is several degrees simpler than setting up a traditional brick and mortar site, shortening your journey to being up and running.
These differences mean ‘virtual’ brands can concentrate on a modular solution that is vastly different to traditional bricks and mortar sites…
Modular: quick, efficient, and perfectly designed
Compact and designed around production efficiency, with flexible options for equipment that meant we could customise the kitchen in a few days for different concepts, it was clear this was the solution that would allow us to respond to our customers’ needs quickly.
We had found there was land available in and around city centres which wasn’t being used that was perfect for a delivery kitchen. If we could connect electricity, water, and waste, we could put a kitchen there.
We launched in London and Brighton, and quickly found that the most popular independent businesses on the platform were running out of these delivery kitchens. Armed with this data, we moved to scale the business and opened more in London, and then in quick order we opened in Holland, Germany, and the Middle East- all in the space of six months.
This is the advantage of modular – using a simple template you can set up a professional kitchen in just a few weeks. These units arrive on site with all equipment installed: just connect them to waste, water, and power, and you are ready to operate. It is also easy to scale a modular solution because you can add more modules or swap out equipment to support a new menu element or a scaling of one part of your menu.
Growing organically – and fast
Scaling an operation in a traditional model can be slow and painful. It’s an activity which doesn’t scale: you still must find the right site, with the right footfall, services, and space to create a profitable concept.
But with a modular delivery kitchen, once you have decided on the size, equipment and layout of your kitchen for an efficient production process you can roll them out. Cookie-cutter kitchens can be setup at multiple sites, with training and processes easily replicated.
Large inside spaces don’t need to be a challenge
But what if outside spaces are at a premium? We’ve been seeing a 10x surge, YoY, in enquiries for businesses looking to transform large, often industrial spaces into sites for multiple delivery-only/dark kitchens.
Although this is more of a challenge, it is still possible to ‘modularize’ the process. We’ve created our own solution: ‘Fast-Fit Walls’, which can create numerous, discrete kitchen units within hours, and make it easy to connect the services you need to run a successful operation. They are also easy to move and reconfigure should you need to change your operation for any reason.
Solutions such as ours allow a simplification and subsequent speeding up of the process of launching your own delivery kitchen concept and can also reduce costs dramatically.
How delivery-only/Dark kitchens can shorten your route to operation
If you have a good concept, the problem is getting to market, testing out your menus and refining them using the data you gather from sales and customer feedback.
Delivery-only kitchens can be the route to setting up and getting operational much quicker – we have deployed our mobile trailer kitchens for customers and been operational within days.
If you are interested in transforming a large internal space, using a repeatable and efficient kitchen design will reduce design costs, reduce installation times, and make adjustments much easier as your model develops. Our Fast-Fit Walls are a great example of a simple and efficient solution in this space.
Delivery-only kitchens have fewer barriers to your success:
- Quick and simple ‘cookie-cutter’ modular designs make deployment and scaling quick
- Land and properties near to population centres but not in prime locations work perfectly – for lower rents
- Large indoor spaces can be transformed quickly and easily with easy modular walls
If you are looking to become a food entrepreneur by starting up a hospitality brand, more and more professionals like you are launching with a ‘virtual’ brand in a delivery-only kitchen.
The timescales are much shorter than a traditional restaurant launch, the costs are lower, and the setup is more flexible, allowing you to pivot easily in the first months of operation as you find out about your customers and their needs.