What works and what not for dark kitchens

Short Description
Recently at a Dark Kitchen conference held by Indian Restaurant Congress in Bangalore, speakers talked about the opportunities and challenges that lie in operating this model and what points need to be taken care of to make it successful. Here are the few takeaways from the conference.
  • Kritika Agrawal Correspondent, Restaurant India
Recently at a Dark Kitchen conference held by Indian Restaurant Congress in Bangalore, speakers talked about the opportunities and challenges that lie in operating this model and what points need to be taken care of to make it successful. Here are the few takeaways from the conference.

While restaurateurs are coming up with the concept of delivery only kitchens now-a-days, the very concept of cloud kitchen in India is still in a nascent stage. Recently at a Dark Kitchen conference held by Indian Restaurant Congress in Bangalore, speakers talked about the opportunities and challenges that lie in operating this model and what points need to be taken care of to make it successful. Here are the few takeaways from the conference.

 

 

Scaling the brand

 

“What I have seen is at the end of the day people want to eat and the question is how you meet that demand and how do you meet in a dynamic and flexible way. I think the very first thing is specializing in unique cuisines and then is how you scale it. Lastly how do you make it affordable and how are you going to deliver matters. It’s not about being a fancy chef, it’s about productizing it and scaling it, which is ruthlessly hard.”

 

Sam Subramaniam, CEO at Brand Capital

 

Go Local

 

“If I talk about specific cuisines that work for dark kitchens then Ghar ka khana (Home-made food) works and Indian food always works well. It also depends upon the region you are operating in. I would say that the regional food, ubiquitous Punjabi food (which is generally termed as Indian food) in the menu really works well for cloud kitchens. The south East Asian flavours have also proven to be successful. Off late, there has been a trend going on which is because a lot of people are switching to health based food. Dishes like Sushis, Dimsums have become very popular when it comes to delivery only kitchens.” 

Chef Vineet Manocha Senior Vice President - Culinary at Lite Bite Foods Pvt Ltd

 

 

 

Taste is first and foremost

 

“Dark kitchens really need to focus on the taste. What you cannot achieve with the presentation, you have to achieve that with the taste because that is what makes it and breaks it for you. Secondly, it is very important to have a right kind of packaging so that the food can be maintained in a right temperature and can be delivered the way it is supposed to be. For example, the cylindrical shape of sushi must not be tampered and it must not be squashed.”

 

Sumant Vikas, General Manager- Culinary Operations and Innovation at Cremica Food Industries Limited

 

 

Unique offering

 

The question that a dark kitchen operator should ask herself/himself is if she/he doing something different for the customers. If you are making the same aalu poori at the front end and took it to the back end and started delivering it, then I think you will soon become the part of graveyard. You will have to ask that honest question to yourself that ‘Am I doing something different or Am I doing something better?’ if you have not innovated with the food in India, which is a country of entrepreneurs then you are gone.”  

 

Aditya Somani, Private Equity Investment Professional

 

Consistency is the key

 

“I was talking to a one of our clients who is operating a large scale dark kitchen business and they were looking for a pasta sauce. Now a traditional pasta sauce would have some percentage of white sauce in it which is made out of flour. So, if there is maida flour then there would be starch and my client wanted a pasta sauce without starch in it because the pasta will be consumed after 40 minutes of preparation so the sauce should be able to hold its original texture for the next 40 minutes. Here we are trying to go away from the traditional ingredients for cooking. So, now we are developing a pasta sauce which is free of starch. For home-made food also consistency is the key. There should be no inconsistency regarding the dishes’ taste.”

 

Sumant Vikas, General Manager- Culinary Operations and Innovation at Cremica Food Industries Limited

 

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