Whether you call it a dark kitchen, ghost kitchen, cloud kitchen or virtual restaurant, the idea of operating a food service business that does not provide a dine-in option is growing in popularity. While we may use different names to refer to the dark kitchen, the concept remains the same: these kitchens sell meals exclusively through delivery. But while the concept may be new, the owner-operator still faces the same old industry challenges to ensure the operation is as efficient and optimized as possible.
Dark kitchens are becoming more common with the rise in popularity of online platforms and apps like UberEats and Postmates that make it quick and convenient for consumers to order what they want for pick-up or delivery. In fact, some dark kitchen concepts don’t even provide a drive-thru option or take cash – it’s entirely an online and digital transaction. The consumer doesn’t even know from where their order is being prepared and delivered.
In some ways, nothing has changed, it’s all about speed and convenience and good customer service, as it always has been in the quick serve restaurant business. And we all know that for most QSR operations, nickels and dimes matter. No opportunity to shave pennies from operating costs should be overlooked in the constant effort to improve and maintain margins.
A dark kitchen frees the owner/operator from traditional dine-in costs – fitting up, maintaining and paying rent on a customer seating area, investing in marketing/signage, staffing servers and hosts, or dealing with dinnerware and the disposal/recycling of single-use food packaging and utensils. It’s all about the kitchen and fulfilling customers’ expectations for food quality and speed of service.
While many aspects of a traditional restaurant with a drive-thru window and/or a takeout delivery service may not be present, the need remains for the owner/operator to have a constant pair of eyes on the operation to ensure it is operating as efficiently as possible.
A modern video surveillance system that offers data integration with the point of sale and other key operating systems within the business is just as crucial here as it is in a more traditional food service business.
Why? Consider the following:
- Getting the job done – how efficiently and diligently are staff working to fulfill orders?
- Inventory shrinkage – from the stockroom to the freezer, is the inventory being used for its intended purpose, or is any of it “disappearing?”
- Meal breaks and snacking – depending on the policy for breaks and meals, are staff taking advantage and feasting at the business’s expense?
- Mobile pickups – how quick is the service? How long are customers being left to wait out in the parking lot?
- Deliveries – how prompt are the delivery staff? If required, are they double-checking orders for completeness and accuracy before leaving?
As always, an owner/operator always needs those additional pairs of digital eyes that never rest and never blink to ensure their operation remains efficient and focused on customer satisfaction at all times. That’s where Solink’s intelligent video solution comes in. Chat with us or learn more about our solutions for restaurants here.