Dark Kitchen, Ghost Kitchen, Cloud Kitchen: what are they?

Kitchens without a dining room, for more efficient and flexible delivery

Dark kitchens, ghost kitchens and cloud kitchens are concepts that are revolutionising the world of catering, offering new opportunities and challenges to professionals in the sector.

Born as a need dictated by pandemics, they are now an ever-growing and evolving phenomenon, driven by a market worth as much as 1.8 billion euros. But what is it all about?

Dark kitchens, ghost kitchens and cloud kitchens are restaurateurs’ response to the increasingly intense and varied demands of delivery, new food production formats that operate exclusively through home delivery.

Unlike traditional restaurants, they have no space for customers and focus exclusively on preparing orders for online platforms.

What differentiates dark kitchens, ghost kitchens and cloud kitchens?

As anticipated, these production models are dedicated exclusively (or almost exclusively) to home delivery. The names are often used interchangeably (or encapsulated in a generic ‘dark kitchen’), but we can generally use these definitions:

  • Dark Kitchen – Develops within a traditional restaurant, where it is structured as a second operational kitchen set up only for delivery. Its dishes are presented to the market as a new brand, which ‘lives’ only in the virtual ecosystem.
    This approach makes the best use of a pre-existing space, optimising the storage of ingredients or semi-processed products, shared between brands.
  • Ghost Kitchen – In this format, the dining room does not exist. The kitchen works only for home delivery, with one or more brands owned by the same entrepreneur who often share some of the ingredients or basic preparations.
    This model allows for great flexibility because it can quickly adapt menus (or brands) to market demands.
  • Cloud Kitchen – This mode can be interpreted as the coworking of catering. It starts with the creation of a shared kitchen space, with pre-equipped workstations; operators, who only produce for home delivery, rent their own space without the need for large investments.

Challenges and advantages of dark, ghost and cloud kitchens

The main advantage of these formats is in terms of costs, mainly operational. In fact, the lack of a room saves on rent, staff and other items such as laundry or cleaning.

They are also more flexible business models than traditional catering because they are able to change menus and operations quickly according to customer demand.

On the other hand, dark kitchens operate in a highly competitive market, where it is not always easy to retain customers: product quality must be high, price competitive and communication constant, especially in large cities.

However, the main challenge is at the service level, especially logistics: the dishes on the menu must always be available and ready at the right time, dictated by the delivery app. Punctuality must be impeccable.

The blast chiller is an indispensable element in this environment, because it allows you to

  • preserve raw materials for longer, reducing the risk of stock shortages
  • prepare semi-finished products in advance, making the line more efficient
  • cool preparations more quickly, freeing up stations for new orders
  • make use of night hours, reducing labour hours and thus saving money

Leaner management of the kitchen, with a long-term vision, makes it possible to increase sales volumes

Are you considering opening a dark, ghost or cloud kitchen? Discover with us the blast chiller best suited to your needs.

Entry: the best friend of small catering (and more)

Entry: the best friend of small catering (and more)

In professional catering environments, the efficiency and versatility of

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