Five tips for setting up a Dark Kitchen

The strange idea of restaurants serving hundreds of meals without tables, chairs or waiters would have been quite a bizarre concept to many of us just a year ago. 

Those in the know will have seen this trend coming as a new development in the future of food for some time, but for any Australian who has suffered long periods of social lockdown in 2020 (that’s certainly you Victorians) and turned to the many ordering apps to get a taste of the restaurants they’ve missed so dearly, the idea will now make sense: dark kitchens.

A ‘dark kitchen’ is a restaurant that only exists digitally, creating meals exclusively for the booming online delivery market. 

For merchants the opportunity with ‘dark kitchens’ is to unlock a new revenue stream, optimise a menu specifically for delivery and ultimately meet customers with new food products in interesting ways via a range of online delivery channels.

Here’s five tips from the Doshii team for setting up a Dark Kitchen: 

1. Location, location, location

One of the biggest attractions of a dark restaurant is that you don’t actually need to rent an expensive building in a premium location. Your location isn’t what’s going to attract customers, just your menu, so choose somewhere that gives you a good reach but ultimately allows you to focus on getting the product right. 

2. Optimise for delivery

Not all great food is delivered equally but this is your chance to create a menu that will travel well. Think about items that can withstand a journey on the back of a motorbike and look into optimised packaging that can keep your tasty deliveries kitchen fresh for as long as possible – ultimately this will be what keeps customers coming back. 

Equally, whether you’re leveraging an ordering app with it’s own delivery service like Deliveroo or creating your own last mile delivery strategy using solutions like Drive Yello, it’s critical that you step through the what and the why to make sure it works for your business. Optimised routes built from data and insights can make a huge difference to margins for example.

3. Cut out manual processes

If you’re running a dark kitchen you want to be operating at maximum velocity and given all of your orders are coming through digitally you want to make sure you have a technology stack that eradicated any manual processes. For example, ensuring orders from multiple apps go straight into the one PoS system and print through the same printer in the kitchen. Doshii can help with this, ensuring your not wasting time manually rekeying orders into a PoS or running reconciliations on all orders and revenue at the end of the month.

4. Test & learn from the data

The best ordering apps have one huge advantage – data. Apps like Deliveroo know the latest diner trends and can be ready to pounce with offerings diners didn’t even know they wanted yet. But so can you when running a dark restaurant. Make sure all of the apps you use are seamlessly connected to your PoS, putting all the data you have into one place ready to be used to drive menu optimisations. Even simple things like knowing when you’re more likely to sell out of certain dishes as a trend can help you ensure you don’t leave any dollars on the table.

5. Invest in marketing

Now, with no face to face interactions this might seem counterintuitive, especially when your brand only really shows up in an ordering app, but good brands drive revenue. Think about smart, targeted marketing campaigns you can run, leveraging the diner data you have. Loyalty programs are also great at driving repeat purchases and if you have the right apps to help you manage diner data and loyalty comms you can make sure all of your focus stays firmly on the product.

Dark kitchens, even as hospitality opens up again, are here to stay as online food ordering continues it’s rapid surge. If you want to chat to the Doshii team about the right digital strategy and solution for your dark kitchen venture, reach out to us at hello@doshii.io.

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