Have you ever wondered where the takeaway chain restaurant was cooked? There is a chance that it was not actually made in one of their restaurants, but was instead made in a “ghost kitchen”.
source: from the inside
I went behind Growth Kitchen, a ghostly kitchen company in London that offers restaurant brands the space to prepare dishes and increase their delivery capacity without the expense of a full-service restaurant.
source: from the inside
Ghost Kitchen is located in an industrial area of residential London – not where you’d expect orders. Since they do not directly serve customers, ghost kitchens can be located far from the main streets in areas with lower rents and less floor space.
The exterior of the building is largely nondescript. I arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon, just after lunchtime, even though there were two bikes parked outside.
Delivery drivers taking orders enter through the front door which contains a list of all the restaurant brands that have kitchens there.
Inside, passengers can sit while waiting for orders, as well as access to restrooms, phone chargers, and a water fountain. Groth Kitchen told Insider that driver well-being is important to the company.
The building consists of two main corridors…
… with small windows for each brand. If you look inside, you can look at the individual kitchen spaces.
Floor plans vary in kitchens. The company’s founders told Insider that the kitchens are tailored to the needs of each brand.
While some other Ghost establishments have brands that share kitchens and even employees, Growth Kitchen has one for each store with employees assigned directly from the chains. Co-founder Mateh Kuhn told Insider that communal kitchens “are not the future.”
Co-founder Tom Gatz said brands want to control their reputation and reduce risk by owning their own kitchens and employees. Since kitchens cater to each brand, having multiple employees working at one facility would spoil the flow, he said.
Gatz and Kuhn said operating ghost kitchens allows workers to focus on the quality and speed of orders without worrying about customer service. The company says that setting up a kitchen in one of its centers is much cheaper and faster than a brick restaurant.
In total, there are 10 Growth Kitchen Hub brands I visit that Gatz and Kun say collect at least 800 orders a day.
Gatz and Kohn said there are criteria brands must meet before they can secure a place in the kitchen, such as a five-star food hygiene rating and a commitment to sustainability, including packaging made from recycled materials.
All brands are different, preparing cuisines that range from Greek and Thai to Mexican and pizza. Growth Kitchen says that means they don’t compete directly with each other.
Brands can set up orders for all of the delivery apps on the site, with the top three delivery apps being Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat, but Kohn said Growth Kitchen is encouraging restaurants to use private delivery channels to collect customer data instead.
In exchange for kitchen space and access to Growth Kitchen’s resources and data, brands can pay a flat fee and sales commission or just a commission, according to Gatz and Kun, “depending on the needs of our restaurant brands and the nature of their business.”
In addition to the Balham location I visited, Growth Kitchen has another location in Bermondsey, each with 10 stores. Growth Kitchen plans to open 40 new locations over the next two years, including some outside London, and announced £3 million ($3.75 million) in seed funding in April.