I went behind inside Growth Kitchen, a London ghost kitchen company that provides space for restaurant brands to prepare dishes and increase their delivery capacity without the expense of a full-service restaurant.
The ghost kitchen is located on an industrial estate in a residential area of London – not where you’d expect takeout orders to be made. Because they don’t serve customers directly, ghost kitchens can be located away from high streets in areas with lower rents and less floor space.
The exterior of the building is largely nondescript. I arrived at 2:30 p.m., just after the lunch rush, though there were a few bikes parked outside.
Delivery drivers collecting orders enter through the front door, which has a list of all the restaurant brands with kitchens there.
Inside is space for drivers to sit while they wait for orders, as well as access to restrooms, phone chargers, and a water fountain. Growth Kitchen told Insider that drivers’ welfare was important to the company.
The building is based around two main corridors …
… with pickup windows for each brand. Looking inside, you can peek at their individual kitchen spaces.
The layouts of the kitchens vary. The company’s founders told Insider that the kitchens are adapted to the needs of each brand.
Whereas some other ghost facilities have brands share kitchens and even staff, Growth Kitchen has one for each outlet with staff hired directly by the chains. Shared kitchen space “is not the future,” cofounder Máté Kun told Insider.
Brands want to control their reputation and reduce risk by having their own kitchens and staff, said cofounder Tom Gatz. Because the kitchens are catered to each brand, having multiple staff working in one facility would ruin the flow, he said.
By operating ghost kitchens, staff can focus on order quality and speed without worrying about customer service, Gatz and Kun said. The company says that setting up a kitchen in one of their hubs is far cheaper and faster than a bricks-and-mortar restaurant.
In total, there are 10 brands at the Growth Kitchen hub I visited, which Gatz and Kun said collectively fulfill at least 800 orders a day.
Gatz and Kun said that there were criteria brands had to meet before getting a space in the kitchen, such as having a five-star food-hygiene rating and a commitment to sustainability, including packaging from recycled materials.
The brands are all distinct, preparing cuisines ranging from Greek and Thai to Mexican and pizza. Growth Kitchen says this means they do not compete with each other directly.
The brands can prepare orders for any delivery apps at the site, with the main three being Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Just Eat, but Kun said that Growth Kitchen is encouraging restaurants to use proprietary delivery channels instead to capture customer data.
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