Appetite for delivery-only kitchens expected to grow as indoor dining reopens

PKL Delivery Kitchens global head Charlie Farr explains how delivery kitchens may inform chains’ bricks and mortar strategies.

Amidst the reopening of restaurants for indoor dining, PKL Delivery Kitchens global head Charlie Farr says he anticipates the boom for delivery-only kitchens, also referred to as cloud or ghost kitchens, to continue in the UK.

“I think there's a lot more appetite to grow,” he told QSR Media in an interview. “There's been more of a relaxation around using redundant retail units and offices and converting that into delivery kitchens, which is really, really interesting and opens up a whole pool of new assets.”

Farr, who was Grosvenor's former head of retail leasing and served as a property acquisitions manager for Deliveroo, said the company  - which has Deliveroo and Doordash as some of its clients - is getting most traction from startups with no restaurant experience but said more established chains have expressed interest in exploring growth through such concepts as a means to get business intelligence quicker.

“You can scale a lot faster and you can find out much more flexibly through delivery kitchens. You know where your brand will be most successful,” he said. “You'll be able to find out through your permanent space, coupled with a few delivery restaurants, where your most successful restaurants will be positioned.”

Whilst opportunities remain in London and some regional areas, Farr said the company, which provides a plug-and-play type infrastructure required to set up a dark kitchen, is also seeing growth opportunities in Europe. Whilst “lagging behind”, the U.S. and United Arab Emirates are next markets they think will grow after Europe.

Farr anticipates that the restaurants will continue to find ways to optimise their restaurant space, putting a bigger emphasis on experience. 

“I think that [an] omnichannel customer experience is still going to be really key over the next five to 10 years,” he added.

For those who want to get into the dark kitchen space, Farr echoed the same principles in starting a food business: determining your product, knowing one’s market, and getting your finances straight.

“For me, it's starting small, and then building on that initial successes you'll have,” he said.

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