Hidden kitchens, the new trend among restaurants

The current trend of ordering food at home makes these places with closed-door menus fashionable.

With the closure of more than 30% of food establishments, the decrease in capacity that also brought with it the loss of the atmosphere, online orders have increased by almost 300%. Faced with this panorama, the “hidden kitchens” gain followers. In English they are called “Ghost or Dark Kitchen”, and they refer to a professional kitchen complete with storage, preparation, preparation and cooking of dishes, created and designed for home delivery that receives its orders through online applications. The equipment of these kitchens complies with all the quality standards of a restaurant, but with the difference that there is no area to receive diners, which in turn facilitates that its location can be carried out in almost any location, reducing the size, rent, expenses for decoration and furnishings, employees and fixed and operating expenses of the restaurant.

It is worth clarifying that although the term Hidden Kitchens may suggest that they are hidden, they must comply with health regulations and ensure that their location corresponds to a place that can support the work of the activity, avoiding at all costs to locate this type of kitchens in residential buildings.

The equipment of these kitchens meets all the quality standards of a restaurant. (SHUTTERSTOCK)

This model has become very relevant after the appearance of the pandemic, as it becomes a viable alternative for traditional places that fear bankruptcy, as well as to channel new opportunities for entrepreneurs within the gastronomic sector.

There are the Hubs, which are ghost kitchen companies, which enable and implement the required industrial facilities, to rent them to chefs or interested parties. In this option, the space is fully equipped and operational, which means that it can be shared by several ghost restaurants.

Among the positive aspects we have: simple operation, low investment, lower cost location. The negative aspects: they must radically comply with the “30 minute barrier”, so they require a good logistics operation (last mile), the commissions of the online platforms for orders are high from 20 to 30%, plus The tax and additional are the bank commissions for the use of debit or credit cards, but in turn they must be competitive in their prices, outsourcing, no matter how well packaged the product is, passes into the hands of another person, who is who delivery, so we are left with the uncertainty of how it will reach its final destination and the dependence on digital marketing.

If you are interested in creating a hidden kitchen, here I share the architectural requirements, which are almost the same as for an industrial kitchen:

1. Create the concept. Based on the type of menu you will offer and the estimate of your audience (quantity and variety of dishes) you will be able to have an idea of ​​the space you need and the location. Remember in the location to study a low-cost point, but that allows you to cover certain urban radii.

2. It is essential to be very clear about what machinery will be needed to prepare the type of food that you plan to offer in your restaurant. But regardless of whether it is a large kitchen with many appliances or a small kitchen with a few essentials, it is vital to know how to take advantage of the available space so that the workflow is adequate. Each square meter costs a lot, so no one can afford to waste spaces, even if they seem minimal.

3. The size of the kitchen with respect to the plates can be calculated approximately in half; For example, if you will serve 200 meals at the same time, your kitchen must be at least 100 square meters.

4. The minimum necessary areas are reception, warehouse, preparation area, preparation and cooking area, packaging area, washing area (delimiting, of course, the clean route and the dirty route) and the delivery area.

5. Within the conditions must have facility for cleaning both floors, walls and appliances, ventilation to extract gases and vapors, supply and supply of potable and non-potable water, electricity, appropriate materials (easy to clean, non-slip floors) , suitable temperature, waste treatment.

This model has become very relevant with the pandemic, as it becomes a viable alternative for traditional places that fear bankruptcy.

Yermys Peña, architect, urban planner and construction company.

Consequently, today we see a growth in hidden kitchens and Hubs (“Turnkey Kitchens” (Plug & Play)), which require profitable spaces of between 50 to 1,200 square meters.

Many experts in economics agree that the growth of this type of establishments will be constant, since they represent less risk and expenses, at the same timeThey consolidate a business model that speeds up the delivery of prepared food up to two times and gives much greater coverage in different areas of the cities, since they can be established in strategic areas that are not necessarily commercial.